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The Mah-Jongg FAQs
(Frequently Asked Questions)

19. American Mah-Jongg
16. The NMJL Card

1. "Mah-Jongg 101"
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2b. Which MJ Rules Do I Play?
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  3b. 1920s Books
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  7a. Types of Sets
  7b. Is It Complete?
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  -   7c2. Is It Ivory?
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  7q. "I Need Blank Tiles!"
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  7s. Tiles 4 Sight-Impaired
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The Mah Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    Terms of service and privacy policy: The free service that I offer is limited to what you see here on this website. I answer questions submitted by email ONLY (I do not do telephone Q&A), and I never give free private answers. "When you email me, I own it." The price of the information I give is that it is given only in this public forum. Your email may be edited before posting.
    No information you provide through this website shall be deemed confidential. Emailing me with a question or comment on this topic constitutes your permission for your words to be made public. (Business inquiries and scholar/journalist queries are of course treated with all due confidentiality.) Your last name and email address will usually be omitted (exceptions: Find Players/Teachers posts, buyer/seller posts, and event organizer posts).
    The first time someone asks a question here, I send a reply email to let you know that you should come back and see your answer. If your email address is protected by a service that wants me to click a link and prove myself to be human, I don't click the link. You'll need to check back here to find your answer.
    This is an information exchange, not a social site. Due to the actions of spammers, all users' posts go through me, and I when I post them, I omit email addresses (with exceptions as stated above). I learned from experience that many (if not most) posters want their contact information to be kept private. Please do not ask to be put in touch with other people who've posted here, if their email addresses are not shown here. Please don't put me in that uncomfortable position.
    Please note that this site is NOT associated with the National Mah Jongg League. Although questions about the League's card and rules are welcome here, please read FAQ 16 and FAQ 19 to see if your question has already been answered. Also, you can click here to learn how to contact the NMJL directly.


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    Keep scrolling - the Q&A is below.





  • When were jokers introduced?

    >From: Mariette F
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 4:01 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I would like to know what year jokers started being used?

    1961. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-S and column 509. You can link to the FAQs and columns above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    May 27, 2015


    Can I use a joker in a pair?

    >From: Marita
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2015 12:37 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Learning and practicing by myself American mahjong. My hand is as follows.
    >1 crack
    >Joker for 1 crack
    >33 crack
    >55 crack
    >7777 dot
    >Joker, joker, joker and 9 bam.
    >Can I use the joker with the 1 crack, therefore making hand 3 [sic] on the 13579.
    >Thank you.
    >Marita B

    Hi, Marita.
    Read everything on the NMJL card. 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). Then read Frequently Asked Question 19-E-2 here on my website. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. And please do read the entire card. Thanks!
    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
    May 26, 2015


    Frequently Asked Question #16

    >From: "joanos
    >Sent: Sunday, May 24, 2015 7:12 PM
    >Subject: 2015 National Mah Jongg League, Inc. Card Line Interpretation.....
    >Hi, Tom: Could you please interpret lines 3 and 4 of the Winds-Dragons section:
    >NNNN SSSS 111 111 (Pung Any Like Odd No. in One Suit Only)
    >and
    >EEEE WWWW 222 222 (Pung Any Like Even No. In One Suit Only)
    >Do the like even/odd numbers specified in the above lines need to be the same number in each spot filled in with jokers or can they be two different even/odd numbers?
    >Thank you,
    >Joan and Larry from Maumee, Ohio

    Hi, Joan and Larry
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 16. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 16 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a question about the NMJL card. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about mah-jongg are found in the FAQs. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    May 24, 2015


    A discard was misnamed, causing a problem. What now? (part 2)

    >From: Susan B
    >Sent: Sunday, May 24, 2015 6:32 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >I'm not sure AY answered my question.
    >I guess I must be dumber than dirt.
    >The joker that I discarded would have made a pair of flowers that was needed for MJ. It was my understanding a joker could never be used for a pair.
    >Therein lies my question. Could the joker (misnamed by me as a flower) been used as a pair for MJ
    >Sorry for any confusion.
    >Susan Berger

    Hi, Susan. I thought you might come back with a follow-up question.
    You discarded a joker and said "flower," which is against the rules since the previous discard was not a flower. To answer your question, of course a joker may never be used in a pair, but that is not germane to the question; the only thing that matters is what happened next:
    Someone else, hearing "flower," said "mah-jongg."
    Game over. Someone said "mah-jongg" because of what you said. You pay for the entire table. Just like FAQ 19-AY says.
    You are NOT dumber than dirt, but you did flub that play (so you must pay). 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
    May 24, 2015


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

    >From: Susan B
    >Sent: Saturday, May 23, 2015 2:29 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >At end of game I discarded a joker and said "flower". I should have said joker or same. The previous discarded tile was not a flower.. Person called my discarded joker and said they have mj (they needed a flower)
    >What is rule on this?
    >Susan B

    Ouch, Susan.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-AY. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    May 23, 2015


    Column thoughts

    >From: Elisegk
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 9:38 PM
    >Subject: feedback on wwyp 5/10/2015 column
    >for the first hand, I would keep all the fives and the winds. You have 9 tiles toward the first singles-pairs hand, plus people often pass winds.

    >From: Elisegk
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 9:49 PM
    >Subject: Re: feedback on wwyp 5/10/2015 column
    >same column - 5th hand - waht about the 3rd quints hand - you have two 3 cracks, one red and 3 Wests, plus 3 jokers, so 9 tiles toward this hand?

    Good on both counts, Elisegk. But Janice E and Ellen N beat you to it. Scroll down (or just go back to the column and scroll down). Ellen wrote me about the Quints hand on May 17, and Janice wrote me about the S&P hand on the 19th.
    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
    May 20, 2015


    Two wildly unrelated questions

    >From: teresa d
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 12:29 PM
    >Subject: question on 2015 hand
    >Hi Tom,
    >We have a question on the second to the last Singles And Pairs 2015 hand:
    >998 99887 998877
    >Can you use jokers?
    >Also, a friend bought a Chinese maj jonng set at the Great Wall. The tiles are chunky. Can the National Mah Jonng League order her 8 extra tiles to match her set, so she can add jokers and play American Mah Jonng?
    >Thanks a lot!
    >T in Lake Oswego, OR

    Hi, Teresa. Welcome to my website! You asked:

    second to the last Singles And Pairs 2015 hand:
    >998 99887 998877
    >Can you use jokers?
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 16 (all the usual questions about the 2015 card). You can link to the FAQs above left.Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in the FAQs. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    a friend bought a Chinese maj jonng set
    Well, then she has a nice Chinese set she can show off as a souvenir! Of course it can't be used to play American mah-jongg.

    Can the National Mah Jonng League order her 8 extra tiles to match her set
    The League doesn't "order" extra tiles for anyone. It's possible they might have tiles to match hers, but I imagine the likelihood is low. If your friend can use the internet, she can read FAQ 7R, and she can check out the posts and links on the Tiles For Sale bulletin board, and she can post her own announcement on the Tiles Wanted bulletin board. Links to the FAQs and boards are above left.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    May 20, 2015


    Column 635, part 2

    >From: Janice E
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 7:15 PM
    >Subject: Response re: may 10, #5
    >I would probably pass 2B, 9D and flower. I would not want to pass 2B, 4D, and flower because it could be three tiles toward Evens #5.
    >Janice

    Okay. F 2B 4D would also all be "friends" together towards Consec. #2 (not only that Evens hand). Your twos and nines are not used together anywhere on the card, but the same can be said of the fours and nines.
    In her Beginners' Guide, Elaine Sandberg said you "absolutely" don't want to pass a flower "unless you're desperate." So how about 4D 9D 2B? Those are not all friends, and they don't give someone a flower.
    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
    May 20, 2015


    Column 635

    From: Janice E
    Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 5:55 PM
    Subject: May 10 column, #5
    Hi Tom,
    In your May 10 column, # 5, would you think quints #3 since you have three jokers, 3 W, 1 dragon and a pair of 3's?
    Janice

    Good, Janice. Quints should always be considered when you start with more than two jokers. Take it the next step now. What tiles would you pass, and why those?
    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
    May 19, 2015


    She had a change of heart (FAQ 19-AM)

    >From: Janis S
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 2:16 PM
    >Subject: Discard question
    >If player A throws a tile and player B picks up this discard and places 3 tiles on top of rack with discarded tile for an exposure, then player B decides not to play that group of tiles:
    >1. Player B has not discarded a tile yet since wanting to change her mind...
    >2. Can player B change her mind since she has not made a discard since she made this exposure that she would like to take back?
    >3. Can player B just put all back correctly and play continues?
    >Thank you...
    >Janis S

    Hi, Janis.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-AM. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (or my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    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
    May 19, 2015


    Someone told me, part 2

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 3:18 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >Re: the question on keeping the card in your lap. Yelda might be crossing her NMJL rules with tournament rules. Mah Jongg Madness, as you know, runs tournaments countrywide. Their rule is as follows:
    >1. THE CARD: Players are required to display the NMJL card during tournament play. The CARD is considered necessary equipment; and further, it is a sign of courtesy to display the card during the official games.
    >While it does not say where it is to be displayed, it is normally assumed that it is displayed in front of you between you and the rack and on the table. I did not find anything in the NMJL rules that addresses this.
    >But I question why would one want it in one's lap? It seems that it would be cumbersome and one might miss a miscalled discard because your eyes would be in your lap and not on the table.
    >I think a lot of players forget that a group's table rules, tournament rules and NMJL rules may be different from each other.
    >Just a thought.
    >Bee

    Hi, Bee.
    Sorry your email got waylaid to my spam folder - guess I should check it more often. Thanks as usual for your insights.
    I suppose the reason Mah Jongg Madness made a rule that the card must be "displayed" is that some players get intimidated by players who have the card memorized.
    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
    May 19, 2015


    Rotating players with multiple tables

    >From: Sharron B
    >Sent: Monday, May 18, 2015 2:07 PM
    >Subject: MahJongg rotation
    >In a game of two tables or three, do u have any suggestions as to the best way to rotate players to enable player mix? ( non-tournament play) thank u!

    Hi, Sharron.
    I have not created a formula or algorithm for rotating tables, but I have had numerous discussions with other readers about this.

    I discussed it with lindaz on November 5, 2013:
    http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive28.htm#rotate1
    I discussed it further with Lynn P about a week later, on November 9-10, 2013:
    http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive28.htm#rotate2
    http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive28.htm#rotate3
    And Lynn P came back to discuss it some more on January 25, 2014:
    http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive29.htm#rotate1
    http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive29.htm#rotate2
    And I wrote about table rotation in FAQ 21, "Running a tournament" - you can link to the FAQs above left.

    As you see, I did not come up with a formula for it. I suppose you might find information online about how bridge players rotate, but I think that's a partners game. You can also try this:
    http://math.stackexchange.com/questions/34328/how-to-rotate-n-individuals-at-a-dinner-party-so-that-every-guest-meets-every-ot
    Since I am not a math head myself, and since I am not a tournament organizer, this is a problem I have not been much interested in solving myself.
    Good luck! 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
    May 18, 2015


    Assessment

    >From: ruebi l
    >Sent: Monday, May 18, 2015 9:20 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong Tiles
    >Hi Tom,
    >I have researched your site and I found so much useful information. I was wondering if you could tell me about my set? Based on your classification lists, I believe the set is bone and Bamboo. Based on your research, I was wondering if you could tell me if this set was pre 1920, since it does not have the arabic numbers on it? Someone wrote them on in pencil, as you can see in the photos. The set is also majorly loved/used/stored improperly. There are many stains and soils on the tiles.
    >I hope I've included all of the information you require for an assessment. I really appreciate any information you may have about this set. I would like to list it for sale but I don't have the slightest clue what to start the auction at.
    >Please let me know if you need any information.
    >Thank you so much for your help,
    >Ruebi
    >Other things I know are the Tile count based on the diagram you gave and I organized it in the same fashion:
    >Wind indicator: Rotatable disc with window, red and blue with Asian characters.
    >Racks: None with this set
    >Sticks: None
    >Chips: None
    >Box: None
    >Rulers: None
    >Yakitori Markers: None ( I think?)
    >Dice: Small wooden box with sliding top carved from one piece of wood- inside contains 4 die made from bone.
    >Dots: 36, 1-9
    >Craks: 36 tiles 1-9
    >Bams: 36 1-9
    >Winds: 16 tiles N,E,S, W
    >Blanks: 8
    >Flowers: 8
    >Dragons: 8
    >Total tiles: 148

    Ruebi,
    It might be from the 1920s or the 1930s - hard to tell. If you start your auction at $40, it probably won't sell since it's in poor condition and doesn't even have a box. You could start the auction at $20; maybe you'll get some nibbles. Good luck.
    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
    May 18, 2015


    Fair price

    >From: "ajvmarques
    >Sent: Monday, May 18, 2015 3:32 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong Tilles
    >Hello Tom;
    >Some time ago I started to play mahjong and my first book was the one you wrote "The Red Dragon and The West Wind" from where I learned to play.
    >I live in Portugal and only a few persons play mahjong. I play the game with my family - Classical Chinesse, or alone by computer with the programm "4winds Mahjong" wroten by Mr. Lagarto.
    >I'm sending to you 4 fotos from a mahjong game and I would be very gratefull to you if you tell me some thing about it and a fair price to buy it.
    >Thanks a lot,
    >António M
    >?(Sorry my bad english)

    Hello, António.
    You haven't given me enough information, and your question is unclear. Do you own these tiles and you're asking how much you should ask for them? Or are you wanting to buy a set and you're wondering how much you should offer for them? Also, what kind of mah-jongg do you want to play with them? How many tiles are in the set, and what condition are they in? The box lid does not look old. The paper item does not look old. The tiles do not look old to me. What condition are the tiles in: good, very good, fine, very fine? See FAQ 7N to understand what those conditions mean.
    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
    May 18, 2015


    Jokers in the British/Western/Australian game

    >From: "Pipm
    >Sent: Sunday, May 17, 2015 7:31 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Strauser/Evans Revised Edition.
    >If playing with jokers, can a joker be used to form a concealed kong?
    >Thank you for your help
    >Philippa M

    See page 23, Philippa. If you're using jokers, they may be used for any tile in any kind of grouping. I don't see why it couldn't be used for anything you want (American rules don't apply, if that's why you're asking).
    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
    May 17, 2015


    Last week's column, part 2

    > From: Ellen N
    > Sent: Sunday, May 17, 2015 6:22 AM
    > Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > I am assuming this is the first pass in the Charleston.
    > I would pass 4c, 6d, 6b. I think that my having so many winds means others will not be saving their 1 or 2 winds and pass them to me.
    > Ellen

    Yes, the chances are not too bad that you will get more winds in the Charleston. The problem is the fives. The good news is that you have at least one five of each suit. The bad news is that fives are high-demand tiles, especially on this card. Fives are used in 2015, Sevens, Quints, Consec. #1, and most hands in Odds. It might be better to collect sixes instead.
    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
    May 17, 2015


    Can two jokers be used as a pair, when it's for MJ?

    >From: Joan S
    >Sent: Saturday, May 16, 2015 9:46 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can two jokers be used as a pair for MJ

    The answer is on the back of the National Mah Jongg League card, Joan. You should read everything there (every player should). In your reading, you will find the word "NEVER" (in all capital letters, bold text, and underlined just like that). And you'll have your answer.
    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
    May 17, 2015


    Last week's column

    >From: Ellen N
    >Sent: Saturday, May 16, 2015 6:07 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >May 10 Charleston, #1:
    >How about keeping the winds and fives and go for Singles and Pairs #1?
    >Thanks,
    >Ellen N

    That's a good choice, Ellen. Take it to the next step. How many tiles do you have towards the hand -- and do you have a philosophy or strategy about how many tiles you want to have before attempting an S&P hand? (Many players have a philosophy or strategy about how many winds they think they need before attempting a winds hand, for instance. I don't have a number myself; just asking if you do.) And what tiles would you pass in the Charleston? (I know which ones I would pass in such a case, and I wonder if you see the same danger that I do.)
    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
    May 17, 2015


    One woman in our group racks her tiles immediately after picking them

    >From: Mary Lou W
    >Sent: Saturday, May 16, 2015 3:06 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >One woman in our group racks her tiles immediately after picking them. Everyone else waits until they have their 13 (or 14) tiles. Is there any rule regarding this?
    >Thank you
    >Mary Lou

    Hello, Mary Lou, you wrote:

    One woman in our group racks her tiles immediately after picking them. ... Is there any rule regarding this?
    It's common and normal to rack the tile you've picked from the wall. I don't always rack mine, though - sometimes I look at it, see immediately I don't want it, and discard it without racking.
    That's the answer to the question you asked, but I suspect that you meant to ask about "pickandrack" (the ungracious and aggressive practice of picking and racking so quickly after the previous player's discard that other players don't have time to call the discard). I wrote about that in Frequently Asked Question 19-AD. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    Everyone else waits until they have their 13 (or 14) tiles.
    It's unclear what that means. A player has 13 tiles, then she picks a tile, and then she has 14 tiles. Then if she can't declare mah-jongg, she discards a tile, and she's back to 13 again. Every player always has 13 or 14 tiles.

    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
    May 16, 2015


    Mystery tiles, part 3

    >From: RayHeaton
    >Sent: Friday, May 15, 2015 3:59 AM
    >Subject: Donna's Mystery Tiles
    >Hi Tom,
    >There are two different partially complete tile runs in Donna's flower tiles, (May 14th).
    >The left hand pair of tiles with blue numbers show two images from "the four arts of the Chinese scholar"; the four arts are depicted by a Zither-like musical instrument, the game of Go, Calligraphy and Painting.
    >Donna's tiles show on tile (blue) number 1 a Qin (also called a Guqin), 琴, the zither-like musical instrument and on tile (blue) number 2 the game Qi, 棋, depicting the strategy game of Go or Chinese Chess (these are two quite distinct games, either one gets used within depictions of the four arts); in Donna's case, it looks more like the game Go.
    >As you said, these are shown in FAQ 7-e.
    >This grouping of four accomplishments has been written about since at least the Tang Dynasty (the years 618-907, so the best part of a millennia and a half) but have been called the Four Arts (or in Chinese Si Yi, 四藝) since about 1600, when the grouping were also called "the four leisure time pleasures", (as described by Guqin scholar, John Thompson).
    >The right hand pair of tiles with green numbers show two of the "Four Noble Professions", Fisherman, Woodcutter, Farmer and Scholar. The tile (green) number 3 shows a plow (plough, to us non-Americans!) or other hand tool for tilling the soil together with a farmer's hat and is representative of the Chinese word 耕, Geng, meaning "to plow" and here depicting the profession of a Farmer. Tile (green) number 4 shows a book, implying the word 讀, Dou, to Read or Study, and is representing Scholar.
    >Fisherman, Woodcutter, Farmer and Scholar may reflect the values revered in the traditional Chinese agricultural society, in which people are encouraged to work hard to be self-sufficient on the one hand, and to cultivate good morality and try for an official career through studying on the other. Alternatively, they may be the ideals of the Chinese officials - once they had passed the Chinese civil service examinations and achieved high status, they dreamed of retiring to the 'simple life' of working on the land.
    >Regards
    >Ray

    Great info, Ray. I'll add this to FAQ 7E. Cheers!
    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
    May 16, 2015


    Is there a superstition about black tiles?

    >From: Margieru T
    >Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2015 4:29 PM
    >Subject: black tiles?
    >Hello Tom,
    >I was wondering if there are any superstitions about black tiles such as if they are considered "unlucky" in Chinese culture? I found some beautiful sets on Amazon.com and I was thinking of buying one for my father who has been playing since he was in his teens. We are Filipino, but we sometimes play with older relatives who still consider themselves very Chinese (but at the moment, I have none of them to ask about this). Thank you in advance for your time.
    >Margie Tan

    Hi, Margie.
    I know of just a few specific Chinese superstitions. For example, if four Wests are thrown in a row, someone will die. And if a new mother goes outside in the sunshine within a month of giving birth, she's bringing down some horribleness of some kind upon her newborn. I never heard of anything about black mah-jongg tiles. The first time I ever saw black tiles was in Japan, but of course Japan is not China. Maybe you can ask an older relative, in confidence?
    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
    May 14, 2015


    Mystery tiles, part 2

    >From: Donna <puffins
    >Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2015 11:56 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank you! It figured they were flowers, just ones I had never seen before.
    >Donna


    Mystery tiles

    >From: Donna <puffins
    >Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2015 10:50 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom!
    >I looked through your photos of 'misc' tikes but do not find these. They are four extra tiles in a set that I am looking at. The tiles are three layered green, clear, white.
    >Hoping you might be able to tell me a bit about these.
    >Thank you for all of your wonderful help with MJ!!
    >Donna
    >California

    They're flowers, Donna. Look again in FAQ 7-E, under the heading "Another sort of flower tiles."
    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
    May 14, 2015


    "What are some computer Mah-Jongg games (real mah-jongg, not tile- matching games) that I can play, download or purchase over the Internet, and where can I find them?"

    >From: Corinne K
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 7:36 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >How may I play real American Majong on line, or with software on a Mac? Since I am a beginner, I would like to get some practice before playing more with some women in my neighborhood. I do not want just a matching game; I want to play real mahjong with a computer, at least for now. Do you know of some products or some websites?
    >Thank you so much!
    >C. Klatzko

    Hi, C.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 5. You can link to the FAQs above left. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about mah-jongg are found in the FAQs. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    May 13, 2015


    I think this is an etiquette question.

    >From: Susan B
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 10:10 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I think this is an etiquette question. My group has been playing mahjong once a week for a year. One player plays more often and really knows the card. When someone exposes tiles she tells everyone which hands that person is going for so that people will not throw that tile. I find this rude but perhaps it is just part of the game?
    >Susan

    Oh. My. God. She really does that?? She needs to be taken out behind the barn and shot! She does not know when to keep her thoughts to herself, and is totally ruining the game for everyone. That's not just bad etiquette - it's downright rude and inconsiderate.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 13, 2015


    Simultaneous self-pick with claim for previous discard

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 6:36 PM
    >Subject: The tie goes to ?
    >Hi Tom.
    >The player on my left called for the tile I’d thrown at the very same time the player to my right picked her tile and started to say “Maj” (not racked). I asked my question of who gets the call to the unpleasant woman at the NMJL today. Her reply was that someone had to have called out first and that is the determining factor. This was not the case, it happened at the same time. Therefore I don’t think it is a “Window of Opportunity” issue or “Conflicting Claim”. I consulted your book and column #458 and apologize if you reference this in another area. Please give me your take.
    >Mah Jonggly,
    >Donna
    >PS: I wanted to call the League then and there but that didn’t happen though from their response it probably wouldn’t have mattered.
    >The player who called the tile I discarded insisted that she get the tile and took it. I ended up getting the joker that the player on my right would have gotten and later I went on to get Mah Jongg. A case of the loudest voice ruling and harmony going out “The Window”.

    Hi, Donna.
    This is a very sticky one. The League has never committed this one in writing.
    If everyone at the table understood that the player to your right was saying "maj" then the game should end and she wins. Mah-jongg trumps everything. If nobody at the table heard her say "maj" because she only said "m..." or because the call for the discard drowned it out, then technically the caller gets the tile. I think you want to get this rule in writing. NEVER telephone the League for a ruling. Period. If it's not in writing from the League, it's not a rule.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    May 12, 2015


    Broken column link

    >From: Janice E
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 5:04 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Love your column! On my iPad, your latest column, (May 10, 2015, #635), links to #634 which is the April 12 column. Is it just my iPad that is confused or is it linked to the wrong column? Thanks.
    >Janice

    Hi, Janice.
    I see once again that I'm too desktop-centric (I don't think enough about how my site works on a tablet). The text link ("Column #635") went to the right column, but I'd forgotten to update the mobile link (). It's fixed now, thanks to you!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    May 12, 2015


    Someone told me that I could not hold my card in my lap

    >From: Kathy K
    >Sent: Monday, May 11, 2015 4:50 PM
    >Subject: MahJongg Question
    >Someone told me that I could not hold my card in my lap..
    >Is this correct??

    Kathy, it sounds like you're playing with Yelda. That lady'll say anything is "against the rules"! Where do people get these ideas?! You can put your card wherever you want as long as it isn't impinging on someone else's space.

    ...[Afterthought, after sleeping on it.] Okay, well, maybe I got a little carried away with that last sentence. I was just so incensed about people who tell you there's a rule against anything that rubs them the wrong way. I never heard of anyone keeping her card on her lap. And I think it's a little odd to keep your card on your lap. But there's certainly no rule against it, and if the card being on your lap doesn't impede the game in some way, then I don't see why someone has to complain about it.

    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
    May 11, 2015


    LCD Dot Matrix System, part VIII

    >From: RayHeaton
    >Sent: Monday, May 11, 2015 5:13 AM
    >Subject: LCD Dot Matrix System, part VII
    >Tom,
    >The "Barticle's Japanese Mahjong Guide" may assist Rob in determining his menu options, as the guide includes many Japanese terms (i.e. in Japanese script) with English definitions. Rob could search through the guide and see if he can spot the terms being used...or if Rob wants to send the terms in, I'd be happy to help try work them out.
    >You may well have linked to this document before, but I couldn't spot it in your links pages!
    >http://www.uspml.com/site/dload.php?id=2
    >Regards
    >Ray
    > (Here's an image of the first page)

    Hi, Ray.
    If I had a link to that, it might be in FAQ 25 or FAQ 4b. Hmm, nope. Oh, wait. I do have a link to the United States Professional Mahjong League site in FAQ 4b.
    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
    May 11, 2015


    LCD Dot Matrix System, part VII

    >From: tions
    >Sent: Sunday, May 10, 2015 8:41 PM
    >Subject: What the ステハイ button does?
    >Thanks Tom for the help in the (LCD Dot Matrix System) thread.
    >Like you I have not discovered the usefulness of the discard/pass tile
    >button.
    >My question is do you know of a Japanese Language users manual?
    >My problem is figuring out all the 'options' which is what the SELECT
    >button does (offers options).
    >I managed to turn off most automatic features, and slow down the game,
    >all this by choosing one of the options in the SELECT menu, but am not
    >sure how I managed to do that. I'm sure there are other usefull options
    >in that SELECT menu if only I could read the Japanese language options
    >in the menu.
    >I wish anybody with a Japanese instruction manual would post it.
    >An English manual is too much to hope for.
    >Rob and Linda, Modesto
    >P.S. no problem reading the tiles, as the LCD gives a good detailed
    >picture of the individual tiles, the Cracks are the Chinese symbol as
    >are the Winds so a player from the Western world has to learn those
    >which should be no problem for anyone.

    Hi, Rob.
    Instruction manuals and packages (all paper materials) are called "ephemerae" - they are rare and valuable. I don't have either of those with my game machine. Good luck.
    Tom
    5/10/15


    What to do about the smell of my plastic tiles?

    >From: Felice
    >Sent: Sunday, May 10, 2015 5:07 PM
    >Subject: Chemical smell
    >I have no idea which blog to post this problem under.
    >I ordered a new set of fantastic tiles from Where The Wind Blows. It has been almost a month of airing out and as soon as I zipper them into an enclosure the overpowering chemical when I reopen them can knock me over! Am I the only one?

    Hi, Felice.
    There are suggestions for how to treat your tiles to kill that odor, in Frequently Asked Question 7-O. You can link to the FAQs above left. On the "cleaning" page, where you land after clicking the link to FAQ seven oh, search the page for the words "odor" and "smell." Several things there that you can do that ought to fix the not-uncommon problem.
    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
    May 10, 2015


    Is the strategy column page broken?

    >From: Pamela F
    >Sent: Sunday, May 10, 2015 10:12 AM
    >Subject: Weekly Strategy Column
    >Hi Tom,
    >am I the only one having issues with the weekly postings? Last one I have is April 12th and still flashing as "new". I've tried clearing browsing history and cookies, but get same results.
    >Thanks for all you do,
    >Pam

    Hello, Pamela.
    As I told AnnS on Friday, my workload has been very heavy for the past few weeks (end of semester). I'm past the heaviest part now, so I wrote a new column and it's up now. I know the column is called "weekly," but sometimes my schedule gets in the way (and sometimes I just can't think of anything). I don't want to call it "monthly," because that might encourage even more laziness on my part. And I don't know if I ought to call it "biweekly"...? Anyway, 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
    May 10, 2015


    MCR Primer errata

    >From: "dustyvideoinc
    >Sent: Sunday, May 10, 2015 8:36 AM
    >Subject: FAQ #22
    >Hi Tom,
    >Are you acquainted with any published errata for the MCR Primer (IMPCR 2014) ?
    >Thanks to your link in FAQ #22, our local mah-jongg group is aware of the “Primary” Competition Rules 2014.
    >As we have yet to adopt a scoring system, this would be an option. However, as a learning technique, working through the scoring examples in the (apparently only) edition published, on first pass I scored several of them differently.
    >Example #16 is missing the graphic for the fourth B6 (B6 pung)
    >Example #19 would also Combine with One Voided Suit (no Craks)
    >Example #22 would also Combine with Mixed Shifted Chows
    >Example #29 the stated “Combined with Half Flush” is NOT correct
    >I’m sure you understand the importance of having a correct lesson book, and would appreciate your opinion on these (or any Primer errata, for that matter).
    >Regards,
    >“Dusty”
    >PS Since my email doesn't support rtf, I've attached a Word document with the aforementioned examples as bitmaps, which should be inserted into the text as appropriate.
    >IMPCR examples errata.doc View Download

    Hi, Dusty.
    No, I have not heard of anyone releasing errata for the MCR "Primer."
    What do you want me to do with the document attached to your email? And your email subject line referred to FAQ 22, why? You want all this converted to HTML and posted in the FAQ? That's too much work. I need ready-made images, not a document.
    And I already wrote a "correct lesson book." I don't accept responsibility for creating errata for the "Primary" (primer). If you want to create an errata document for the Primer but can't host it yourself, I can host it in my Downlode folder for others to download. Is your document complete enough to serve that purpose?
    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
    May 10, 2015


    Hope all is well?

    >From: AnnS
    >Sent: Friday, May 8, 2015 2:51 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Are you still posting your mahjongg column?? The last one I saw was April 12, 2015. Hope all is well.
    >Thanks,
    >Ann

    Hi, Ann.
    All is well, but my workload has been very heavy for the past couple weeks (end of semester). I'm past the heaviest part as of yesterday. I still have a lot of work to do this weekend, but I plan to write a column this weekend.
    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
    May 8, 2015


    Somebody discarded a redeemable tile

    >From: Yvonne T
    >Sent: Thursday, May 7, 2015 2:57 PM
    >Subject: Replacing a Joker
    >Hi Tom. I have searched your FAQs and cannot find this answer. I hope I am not asking a question that's already been asked. Here goes:
    >Player A has exposed 3 tiles to make a Pong - 2 "8 Bam" tiles and a Joker.
    >Player B discards an "8 Bam" tile, not realizing that she could have taken the Joker and replaced it with her "8 Bam."
    >Is the "8 Bam" tile that she discarded DEAD?
    >Can someone else call it to replace the Joker?
    >Can someone else call it to use for their own hand?
    >Thank you! I look forward to the answer!

    Hi, Yvonne. Sorry to tell you that it is indeed a question that's already been asked many times. Read "Frequently Asked Question" 19-G. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 7, 2015


    Is it a rule? Do you have to say "call" when you call? (part 4)

    >From: "judi@mahjonggfunla.com
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 10:04 PM
    >Subject: RE: etiquette question
    >Thanks for the info. I got out your book and made a copy of page 52 for her to read about claiming a discard.
    >Judi Nachenberg
    >Mah Jongg Fun L.A.


    Can her jokers be redeemed, part 3

    >From: "kareng1
    >Sent: Thursday, May 7, 2015 10:57 AM
    >Subject: Re: jokers
    >This is. Not an adequate answer. Can you explain this in your own words so that I can show my mahjong group. The group just wants to go by what is written on the back of the mahjong card.
    >Hu

    Those are my own words, Karen. I don't know what's inadequate about them. I'm sorry that I can't help you. I suggest you send a stamped, self-addressed letter to the League. Their address is on the card.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 7, 2015


    Can her jokers be redeemed, part 2

    >From: Karen G
    >Sent: Thursday, May 7, 2015 9:16 AM
    >Subject: jokers
    >Can you explain what "JOKERS may be exchanged from any and all exposures that were made BEFORE the hand went "dead". means? This is printed on the back of the National Mahjong Card.
    >Thanks,
    >Karen
    >Cherry Hill, NJ

    Hi, Karen.
    Last night, in response to your first question, I asked you to read FAQ 19-P. It's good that you also checked your card. Here's what I wrote in FAQ 19-P:

      The General Rule on Joker Validity

      • Jokers which were exposed properly are valid for redemption. If you make a kong, nobody has enough information about which hand you're making, so you can't be declared dead on the basis of that exposure alone. Any jokers in that kong are alive, and stay alive even if you are declared dead later.

      • Jokers which were exposed improperly are not available for redemption. Let's say that your first exposure was a kong of fours (with a joker) and your second exposure was a kong of dragons (with a joker). Let's say that the card does not have a hand that allows kongs of fours and dragons (let's imagine that the hand is clearly not anywhere on the card). Anybody could now declare you dead, based on your improper second exposure. Any jokers that had been exposed PRIOR to the blunder (the jokers in the first exposure) are still valid for redemption, but any jokers exposed in the course of making the blunder (the jokers in the second exposure) are dead. All portions of the hand exposed erroneously are to be returned to the sloping front of the rack, including and especially the now-dead jokers.

      • It sometimes occurs that an error (for instance, too many or too few tiles in the hand) is not discovered until some time later (so that the exact timing of the error and any joker exposures is not known or cannot be determined). When this happens, jokers exposed prior to the discovery/announcement of the error remain alive for redemption purposes, and jokers exposed concurrent with the announcement of a problem are dead and should be returned to the rack.

    I thought that explained the rule in sufficient detail...? If it's still unclear, please tell me exactly where my explanation is unclear so I can fix it.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 7, 2015


    Can her jokers be redeemed?

    >From: Karen G
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 8:01 PM
    >Subject: question on going dead
    >When a player is called dead because of an improper exposure, can the other 3 players make use of any of the jokers on the dead person's hand?
    >Karen G
    >Cherry Hill, NJ

    Welcome to my website, Karen. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-P. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    May 6, 2015


    Donation

    >From: Janet J via PayPal
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 8:50 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Janet J
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$20.00 USD from Janet J. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $20.00 USD
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    Thank you very much, Janet! This is a good day.
    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
    May 2, 2015


    Is she dead?

    >From: Emily Z
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 5:11 PM
    >Subject: Easy one
    >Is a player dead if she discards before picking a new tile? I know house rules apply; I run the house and want to know what the official rule is. (I have to be able to said "Cause Tom said so, that's why!" Thanks.
    >Emily Z
    >Venice, FL

    Hi, Emily. I am not the authority on the American rules; the National MJ League is. I can only tell you what the official rules say. A player who discards before picking may indeed be called dead. And not because I say so.
    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
    May 6, 2015


    Could they be ivory?

    >From: Mary B
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 2:25 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I recently played mah jongg with a lady who was born in 1922. The set has belonged to her mother and the tiles were white and seemed to be engraved with all the correct/ colors and tiles for American mahjongg, The two main things that caught my attention was 1, the feel to the tiles, they felt creamy and buttery but of course, they were solid. 2. The soap had WHITE engraved on the shorter side. Could they be ivory? but there was no bamboo back to them. Enjoy your column. Mary B

    Mary, I do not have enough information to tell you if those tiles are ivory or not. Ivory doesn't feel "creamy and buttery" - sounds like a formaldehyde-based plastic to me. You need to read FAQ 7C2 to figure out if your tiles are ivory or not.
    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
    May 6, 2015


    Is it a rule? Do you have to say "call" when you call? (part 3)

    >From: "judi @ mahjonggfunla . com
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 1:47 PM
    >Subject: etiquette question
    >Is there a written rule that says when calling a tile from the person on your left that you have to announce the call? I played with a lady who just took the tile from the table and then announced her discard without letting us know she has made an exposure.
    >Judi Nachenberg
    >Mah Jongg Fun L.A.

    Hi, Judi. The League's rules are written very loosely. I have never seen anything about verbalizing the call in a yearly bulletin. Here's what it says in the official rulebook (page 14):
    As soon as the tile is discarded, any of the other players wanting that tile for an exposure has a right to claim it..."
    As I wrote to Emily Z when she asked this question on January 6 (below), 'And in a couple other places in that paragraph, it refers to this action as a "call." It doesn't specifically say that a player must speak the claim, or verbalize the "call," but how else could one do it?' And as I wrote to Phyllis when she asked a similar question on April 11, the rule does not say that any specific words are required.
    In Asian games, people are required to verbalize a claim by saying what kind of a claim it is (pung, kong, chow, or to win). I have played with American players who do not speak the claim, when it is from the player to her left. If all players at the table are observant and nobody objects, then no problem. But if it's a tournament, the judge sets the rule. If not in a tournament and you object (and if it's not the home of the silent claimant), you can speak up and ask that everyone please verbalize the call, since that is the precedent set by the original Chinese rules upon which all mah-jongg variants derive.
    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
    May 6, 2015


    Donation

    >From: Cecelia J via PayPal
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 6:40 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Cecelia J
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$25.00 USD from Cecelia J. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $25.00 USD
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    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Cecelia J
    >Sincerely,
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    Thank you very much, Cecelia!
    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
    May 6, 2015


    Do we have to break the wall in American mah-jongg?

    >From: Cecelia J
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 4:49 PM
    >Subject: Breaking the wall
    >I have searched your web site for an answer to this question and can only find it in the Chinese version.
    >The group with which I play vary in length of experience. Recently a seasonal member of our group returned telling us that we needed to break the wall before Charleston. Some place I thought I'd read that breaking the wall (American) was necessary only when a 5th person at the table was betting.
    >Help our group understand what is proper.
    >Cecelia J
    >Harbor Springs, MI

    Hi, Cecelia.
    I'm guessing that your group does not roll dice. And I suppose the reason why you couldn't find Frequently Asked Question 19-AP is that it didn't contain the phrase "break the wall." Just now, I went to FAQ 19 and searched for that phrase and it wasn't in there anywhere! So I'm adding the phrase now. Please go back to FAQ 19 again and read answer AP. You can link quickly to the FAQs above left.
    Also, see page 9 of the official rulebook. Breaking the wall is described there.
    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
    Cinco de Mayo, 2015


    A "change of heart" question

    >From: susan e
    >Sent: Sunday, May 3, 2015 7:55 PM
    >Subject: question
    >Someone called a tile and put it up for an exposure on their rack. Then decided they didn’t want it and decided to put it back on the table. Is this legal? Thank you.

    Hi, susan.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: The "change of heart" questions are answered in FAQ 19-AM. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (or (even better) my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    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
    May 3, 2015


    A discard was misnamed, part 2

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Sunday, May 3, 2015 7:10 PM
    >Subject: misnamed discard part 2
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for clearing up the question from Judy (April 29). This situation happened to me and I did not know what the correct protocol was, since every player knew the tile I needed to Mah Jong. I was pretty annoyed as you can imagine--but your answer covered what to do next if this ever happens again! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with all of us--
    >Gratefully, Linda

    I'm glad you finally found your answer, Linda.
    Might I add that the information has been right here (in FAQ 19-AY) for more than six years.
    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
    May 3, 2015


    Can Thirteen Orphans be chitted in MCR (aka CO)?

    >From: "dustyvideoinc
    >Sent: Sunday, May 3, 2015 11:20 AM
    >Subject: erratum to RDWW errata
    >"P. 158 - Fan 43" should read "P. 152 - Fan 43" and be resequenced.

    >From: "dustyvideoinc
    >Sent: Sunday, May 3, 2015 12:15 PM
    >Subject: Thirteen Orphans/Unique Wonders Hand under CO
    >Under CO, can Thirteen Orphans be chitted, or rob a hidden kong?
    >Perlmen & Chan 1979 p. 70 states: "This hand is considered to be the Royal Hand of the Old Style and enjoys the prerogative of robbing a hidden kong and of not being able to be chitted."
    >Mahjong Wiki at http://mahjong.wikidot.com/thirteen-orphans states "A concealed kong can be robbed to form a thirteen orphans hand."
    >Mahjong Wiki at http://mahjong.wikidot.com/robbing-the-kong states "Robbing a concealed kong is not allowed. In some rules (e.g. Riichi Competition Rules) robbing a concealed kong is allowable if it can complete a Thirteen Orphans hand."
    >The CO rule on Thirteen Orphans Hand being chitted or robbing a hidden kong should be stated one way or the other, because of the hand's long history, and its noteworthy status under CO as one of six special hands that don't require the typical four sets and a pair (13 Orphans, 7 Pairs, 7 Shifted Pairs, Greater Honours and Knitted Tiles, Lesser Honours and Knitted Tiles, and Knitted Straight.)

    Hi, Dusty.
    For the benefit of other readers, to "chit" means to claim priority over another claimant for a discarded tile for a win. Normally, when two players want the same discard for mah-jongg, the player next in turn would take priority (that player is said to "chit" the other claimant). But in the case of Thirteen Orphans, in Hong Kong rules (and perhaps in other rules as well), the player with Thirteen Orphans would take priority over any other (Thirteen Orphans cannot be chitted).
    Perlmen & Chan (the book you cited) describe Hong Kong rules, not Majiang Competition Rules (also called "Chinese Official" by some, myself included).
    And thanks for the link to mahjong.wikidot.com. I see now that the Mahjong Wiki describes Chinese Official rules at http://mahjong.wikidot.com/rules:chinese-official-overview.
    You wrote: "The CO rule on Thirteen Orphans Hand being chitted or robbing a hidden kong should be stated one way or the other."
    I don't recall ever seeing that in the official rulebook (if it was in there, I would have stated it in my book as well). The World Mahjong Network recently posted the latest version of the official rules at http://www.mindmahjong.com/adobe/20140411MCREnglish.pdf. I don't see this chitting mentioned in there, but I have not yet scoured the latest release. You could check it yourself. If it's not mentioned in the rulebook, then you could assume that the Hong Kong rule does not apply.
    If you go to an official tournament, you can ask the judges if that rule applies. If you are playing MCR in a home game, you can set a table rule as you see fit. You could also contact the governing body and ask them for a ruling. As I stated, in my opinion, if it's not mentioned in the rulebook, then it's not a rule in MCR.
    Dusty, you also quoted the wiki in saying that in Japanese riichi competition rules, the player making Thirteen Orphans is permitted to rob a concealed kong. That move is not possible in MCR since in MCR the concealed kong is face-down (nobody but the kong's owner knows what those four tiles are).
    Oh - and thanks for the correction to the erratum. I'll fix it.
    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
    May 3, 2015


    After somebody declares herself dead, which she is not permitted to do, can her jokers be redeemed?

    >From: Miriam S
    >Sent: Friday, May 1, 2015 11:29 AM
    >Subject: incorrect exposure
    >a player exposed four 4 crax = later she exposed 4
    >4dots (she later explained she meant to expose only
    >3 (for the hand 1 2 3 4 - after a round she declared
    >herself dead =
    >I told the players that her craxs were exposed without
    >jokers but the dots were exposed with two jokers =
    >I told them they cannot take the jokers as that
    >dot exposure made her hand dead =
    >please confirm = thank you!

    Hi, Miriam.
    Your friend was not permitted to call herself dead. She was not dead! She merely quit the game voluntarily, for no good reason (her hand was not dead). So all her jokers are totally up for grabs. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    May Day, 2015


    How do you score Fosters 20-Point Mah Jong, part 8

    >From: Dawn B
    >To: Mah Jong Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2015 10:23 AM
    >Subject: Twenty Point Scoring
    >Hi Mr. Sloper
    >First, my sincere apology for misspelling your name for quite some time now. Thank You for calling my attention to my error. Also, thank you so much for identifying where the score sheet originated from identifying the "Foster's Complete Hoyle" book.
    >My question:
    >If a player has a pong of dragons and a pong of seasons of which one is their own - How many doubles would this player score?
    >Please see the attached Twenty Point Scoring of RF Foster's Complete Hoyle Book (I don't have the book just this sheet) that I use in scoring. Thank you, Dawn Bowman
    >I’m Believing God,
    >Dawn

    Hi, Dawn.
    Your sheet clearly says:
    - Pung of dragons = 1 double
    - Pung of seasons = 1 double
    - Own season = 1 double
    That's 3 doubles. So you double the points once, then again, then a third time.
    May the tiles be with you. And thanks for correcting the spelling of my name in your email address book.
    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
    April 30, 2015


    Is the price reasonable?

    >From: Gayle P
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 9:30 AM
    >Subject: Vintage RDC enrobed mah jong set
    >Hi Tom —
    >I am a recent convert to mah jong and I love the game. I am particularly drawn to the vintage sets and have been looking for an enrobed set. I have a dealer (susan athttp://vintagemahjong.com) who has located several sets for me to look at via pictures on dropbox.
    >Anyway, the reason for my email to you today is to ask about the reasonableness of the price she is asking for the one set I am interested in — $2,300 for a complete set with no damaged tiles. It is an RDC Dusty Brown enrobed tile set and it is gorgeous!
    >I know enrobed tile sets are more rare and pricey, and according to Susan, the dusty brown (and kelly green) enrobed tiles are the most rare of all.
    >Just curious as to your opinion — it is hard to find pricing data on these sets because they are so rare. I am not looking to purchase the set as an investment, so I suppose I am answering my own question about what the set is worth, but would really appreciate any comments you might have.
    >I am attaching a picture of the set — I hope it comes thru.
    >Thanks so much — also I am hoping to take your class soon offered through American Jewish University.
    >Gayle P

    Hi, Gayle. You wrote:

    the reason for my email to you today is to ask about the reasonableness of the price she is asking
    I'm sorry, Gayle, but I have zero experience of sets selling for that much money. As you yourself said:

    it is hard to find pricing data on these sets because they are so rare.
    Yes. I have bought and sold sets, but nothing like that. I was imagining hundreds, maybe a bit over one thousand. But I don't have data. I know that I could not afford to pay that. Even if I was a millionaire, I don't know if I would want it that badly. Sorry that I can't tell you if that price is "reasonable" or not.

    also I am hoping to take your class soon offered through American Jewish University.
    Class begins at 10:00 Friday. You have time to sign up!

    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
    April 29, 2015


    A discard was misnamed, causing a problem.

    >From: "jblitzer
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 6:53 AM
    >Subject: question, of course
    >She misnamed her discard, etc.
    >AY FAQ #19
    >She misnamed her discard says 6 crak and called it 6 dot. A player needed the 6 dot for
    >mahjongg.
    >1) The discarder didn't have a six dot in her hand? What happens??
    > Of course, now everybody knows the one person needs the six dot for mahjongg
    >2) The caller did have a six dot in her hand? What happens
    >Your Q! read, "she misnamed her discard. Someone wanted it for math--jongg"
    >However, you do not state what tile the person wanted for math-jongg. The misnamed tile
    >or the tile thrown out by accident.
    >help
    >Judy Judy

    Judy Judy, you wrote:

    The discarder didn't have a six dot in her hand? What happens??
    This is answered in the first answer in FAQ 19-AY. "The hand is over. The misnamer must pay four times the value of the hand to the player who wanted the tile for mah-jongg. No other players need pay. Deal and play the next hand."

    Of course, now everybody knows the one person needs the six dot for mahjongg
    Which is exactly the logic of the League in setting the rule as I expressed it in FAQ 19-AY, first answer. The misnaming caused the caller to reveal what tile she needs for mah-jongg. That messes up the game and destroys the caller's chances to ever make mah-jongg by discard, so the misnamer pays as if what she said is what she discarded.

    The caller did have a six dot in her hand? What happens
    The "caller" is the player who speaks a claim to take a freshly discarded tile for exposure or mah-jongg. The person who discarded and misnamed the tile can be referred to as either "the discarder" or "the misnamer."
    It doesn't matter whether the caller has six dots in her hand. (Clearly, she must have a hand that is ready for mah-jongg, needing a six dot.) If you're asking "what if the misnamer did have a six dot," well, the cat is already out of the bag. You yourself said, "Of course, now everybody knows the one person needs the six dot for mahjongg." So the penalty given in answer #1 in FAQ 19-AY applies.

    Your Q! read, "she misnamed her discard. Someone wanted it for math--jongg" [sic]
    >However, you do not state what tile the person wanted for math-jongg[sic]. The misnamed tile
    >or the tile thrown out by accident.
    The caller wins if the tile is not actually a six-dot (as explained in FAQ 19-AY). The caller also wins if the tile is actually a six-dot - assuming the caller needs a six-dot. I think you're saying is, for example, what if the caller needs a six-bam and the discarder discarded six-bam but called it six-dot. The caller still wins. The discard was still named. A strict interpretation of the printed rule would be to make the misnamer pay for everyone either way, but when I am the caller (I am waiting for my mah-jongg tile) I don't say "mah-jongg" when the discarder has misnamed the discard. I'm always watching every discard. If I want six-bam for mah-jongg, and the discarder discards six-bam but says six-dot, I say "that's not a six-dot." Then when she says "oops, I meant six-bam," then I say "mah-jongg." And then payment goes the way it usually does. My correcting her enhanced harmony and did not result in her having to pay for everyone (which would cause a lengthy explanation and maybe some additional convincing).

    Even if I wanted six-dot, I would not say "mah-jongg." I don't want to cause a scene, knowing that when I tell her she has to pay for everyone, she'd likely need convincing that her error is that expensive. I'd say "that's not a six-dot" as I usually do. I like harmony.
    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
    April 29, 2015


    Is there a prohibition against throwing to three exposures?

    >From: Andi K
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 7:43 AM
    >Subject: Question
    >Hi..if I have three exposers up and it is obvious what I need for majong can another player throw it to me for maj??? I was told by a player that they couldn't. Please let me know
    >Thx
    >Andi

    Hi, Andi.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-Y. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 28, 2015


    Bashi-Bashi, part 2

    >From: Vladimir ല
    >Sent: Monday, April 20, 2015 8:58 PM
    >Subject: RE: "Bashi-Bashi" mahjong rules
    >Play is mostly identical to Modern Japanese, with a few notable exceptions:
    >~ The winner of the previous round is the dealer of the next (no prevailing wind).
    >~ Replacement tiles for kongs and side dragons (dora tiles that are drawn and set aside like flowers) are drawn from the live wall instead of the dead one.
    >~ The penalty for not being tenpai at the end of the round is 10 points.
    >~ Players can rob exposed kongs as well as promoted ones, but they can only rob concealed kongs to complete kokushi musou.
    >~ The chonbo penalty is 20 points.
    >~ Players who mistakenly call pung or kong donate 1 point to the table per infraction for whomever wins the round.
    >
    >List of Yaku
    >~ 1 point: Tan'yao, menzen tsumo, yakuhai, pinfu
    >~ 2 points: Riichi, ankan, iipeikou
    >~ 3 points: Toitoi, haitei, ittsuu (2 if open), san'ankou, chiitoi
    >~ 4 points: Hon'itsu (3 if open), chanta (3 if open), daburii
    >~ 10 points: Ryanpeikou, chin'itsu (9 if open), shousangen, sankantsuu, "white dragon" (winning without drawing any side dragons)
    >~ 40 points: Honroutou (10 if open), junchan (10 if open)
    >~ 80 points (pao applies here; side dragons can only be used in the hand if attempting one of these): Kokushi musou, chuuren poutou, daisuushii, shousuushii, tenhou, chiihou, suuankou, tsuuiisou, ryuuiisou, suukantsuu, daisangen
    >
    >Bonus Points
    >~ Oya / Dealer's point: 1
    >~ Dragon (dora): 1x
    >~ Black dragon (ura-dora): 1x
    >~ Side dragon (nuki-dora): 1x
    >~ Red dragon (aka-dora / red five): 1x
    >~ Tsumibou: 1x consecutive turn as the dealer
    >
    >Anyway, after re-reading an older version of the website you mentioned (http://www.m-mahjong.co.jp/bashi-bashi-top.htm), here's my amended brief overview:
    >
    >Tiles in set: 112 (only 1c, 5c, and 9c are used).
    >Flowers: None (6 red fives - 2 each of 5d, 5b, and 5c).
    >Tiles in Hand: 13, win on 14.
    >Scoring: Count the points.
    >Payment to: Winner only (The hand value is paid to the winner by both losers if self-drawn or, if out on a discard, by the discarder only).
    >Books: None.
    >
    >Just drop me a line if there's anything else you'd like to know.

    Very nice, Vladimir. Thanks very much for the information. I've added the overview to FAQ 2B.
    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
    April 26, 2015


    Can I call a discard, then redeem a joker and add that to my new exposure? (When can I redeem a joker?)

    >From: Ron C
    >Sent: Sunday, April 26, 2015 12:40 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have a 7 bam and a joker and I need 4 – 7 bams. The player on my left has an exposure with a joker, she discards a 7 bam I call the tile and then take the joker from her racked exposure and only then do I put up my exposure of four 7 bams – was that correct?
    >Thank you

    Hi, Ron.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-M. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 26, 2015


    How do you score Fosters 20-Point Mah Jong, part 7

    >From: RayHeaton
    >Sent: Saturday, April 25, 2015 11:42 PM
    >Subject: How do you score Fosters 20-Point Mah Jong, part 5, 6 and now 7!
    >Tom,
    >I'm not sure this will help Dawn's confusion, but on the right hand page of the extract included in "How do you score Fosters 20-Point Mah Jong, part 5" under the section titled "Doubles for all hands" are the two lines:
    >For own flower, either colour....1 Double
    >For both own flowers, each colour....2 Doubles
    >I think the second line is the source of Dawn's comment where she states " AND same player earns 2 more doubles for having both own flowers, each colour ?".
    >I would read the two lines as that the second line takes precedence over the first when a player has both "own flowers", not that the two lines are combined as suggested in Dawn's question. This then gives a "2 Doubles" result not a "3 Doubles" result (i.e., only line 2 applies, not line 1 plus line 2), just as you stated originally.
    >Ray

    Hi, Ray.
    Hmm, I see. Actually, it could be interpreted the other way, too. It's normal to expect that if I have my own flower and my own season, that I'd get 2 doubles for that (since I get 1 double for the one) - I think that line could well mean that I get 2 more doubles for having both (for a total of 4 doubles).
    I couldn't find that explained in his Twenty Point book (the description of Twenty Point in his Hoyle is brief in the extreme) but I did find a discussion about the extra doubles for having both Own and Prevailing Wind, on page 55. "...in case it is both your Own and the Prevailing Wind, the initial value of the set is doubled, because its double improbability should be rewarded, just as other improbable combinations are rewarded." So I think you earn not only the "face value" doubles for the individual flower tiles, but also the "double improbability" doubles for having both. So, 1+1+2=4 doubles. The weird thing, though, is that this line about earning 2 doubles for both Own flowers is not in the Twenty Point book. The Twenty Point book was written in 1924, and the Hoyle was printed in 1937 (my edition, anyway). I suppose it's possible that the extra doubles were added after the initial publication of his Twenty Point book.
    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
    April 26, 2015


    You're still around, Mah-jongg Master, part 3

    >From: Hokule'a
    >Sent: Saturday, April 25, 2015 10:27 PM
    >Subject: Re: You're still around, mahjong master! hello!
    >I'm sorry I didn't know about your class sooner! It's a good price for something that seems as complicated as American Mah Jongg. I'm just your run of the mill HK style player, as you might guess of anyone whose formative years in mahjong were spent on Yahoo. LOL.
    >Thanks so much for the lead on classes, and I will see if I can take one next time. I'm not sure what other kinds of MJ I want to learn myself, just really loving the tiles as always. I liked your lead to MahjongTime, what a great interface! It really gives you the feeling of playing with real tiles.
    >Thanks for your generous reply, and rest assured, any spectating I may get to do, I would pay for. :) Someday!
    >Take care, Jeni


    How do you score Fosters 20-Point Mah Jong, part 6

    >From: Dawn B
    >To: Mah Jong Tom Slope
    >Sent: Saturday, April 25, 2015 4:29 PM
    >Subject: Scoring
    >Hi Tom,
    >Please refer to the score sheet I sent you and you included in answering my question posted on Friday, October 24, 2014 6:41 AM.... Please use this score sheet to answer my questions posted on April 17th.
    >Thanks,
    >Dawn
    >I’m Believing God,
    >Dawn


    LCD Dot Matrix System, part VI

    Hi, Rob. I put batteries in my device, and I did not find it necessary to use the "sutehai" button to play the game (or to discard a tile). I didn't figure out what that button is used for. Gomen nasai!
    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
    April 25, 2015


    You're still around, Mah-jongg Master, part 2

    >From: Jeni I
    >Sent: Friday, April 24, 2015 10:14 PM
    >Subject: An honor!
    >Your help and site has led to hours of calm happiness, in an increasingly crazy world :) Thank you!


    How do you score Fosters 20-Point Mah Jong, part 5

    >From: Dawn B
    >To: Mah Jong Tom Sloper <-- (Dawn, please note that my name is "Sloper" - not "Slope")
    >Sent: Friday, April 24, 2015 8:10 PM
    >Subject: Scoring
    >Hi Tom,
    >Please refer to the score sheet I sent you and you included in answering my question posted on Friday, October 24, 2014 6:41 AM.... Please use this score sheet to answer my 2 posts asking questions posted on April 17th 2015. I appologize I have a tough time understanding...I'm still trying though...not going to give up a game I love.
    >thanks again Tom.
    >DawnB
    >I’m Believing God,
    >Dawn

    Dawn,
    It was not easy digging up a six-month-old email attachment (please don't do that to anyone again; just resend the attachment).
    But I found the source of your image! I noticed that it had page numbers in the corners (page numbers in the almost-700 range, meaning it was a thick book). So I checked in my library for a thick book by Foster, and found one. Your image is from "Foster's Complete Hoyle," but a different edition than the edition in my library. My book is the 1937 edition, and that copy appears on pages 674 and 675 in my book (not pages 694 and 695, as in the book your image came from).
    You say you're still confused. Please ask me your question anew. See the explanation I gave you below, and tell me exactly what is confusing you. You asked two questions: I answered both questions. If you still have two questions, ask them again (referring to the information I gave you) and using different words; if you have just one question remaining, ask it again (referring to the answer I gave), and explaining what is confusing you. And please fix your email address book: my name is Sloper, not Slope. It kind of bugs me when someone misspells my name.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October April 24, 20145


    Picking from the wrong end of the wall: is it a death sentence?

    >From: "judi@mahjonggfunla.com"
    >Sent: Friday, April 24, 2015 7:30 PM
    >Subject: ruling question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Is someone dead if they pick from the wrong end of the wall? Is this a NMJL rule or just a tournament rule? I have looked through the NMJL bulletins for the last 15 years and cannot find any answer. It is in Mah Jongg Madness rules.
    >Thanks,
    >Judi Nachenberg
    >Mah Jongg Fun L.A.

    Hi, Judi.
    It depends. Did she put the tile into her concealed hand and discard? Was it noticed immediately so there was a witness that saw her do it? If the error could be rectified immediately, no death. If the error was not noticed until later and could not be proven to be her fault, no death.
    Lastly, is it a tournament? If so, the tournament's game master can rule at her or his discretion (I would favor a death penalty, and I would accept lenience if granted). Mah Jongg Madness rules are by and large reasonable and correct. The League says tournament game masters hold sway in a tournament.
    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
    April 24, 2015


    LCD Dot Matrix System, part V 

    >From: tions
    >Sent: Friday, April 24, 2015 10:51 AM
    >Subject: What the ステハイ button does?
    >Whereas the Bondai Perfect Mahjong II handheld has not arrived, I am
    >playing Riichi online. Being used to HKOS with no minimum requirement to
    >go out with a win, I'm finding that Riichi is much different. The player
    >needs either a) an extraordinary hand (yaku) or b) a closed hand (picked
    >up no discards ever) and declared Riichi (one tile needed to win).
    >In other words, very often the tiles run out before anyone can win
    >(called an exaustive draw). More so than other Mahjongs versions.
    >In Riichi there is often still a settlement of points in an exhaustive
    >draw because all players who are "Nōten" pay all players who are "Tenpai".
    >http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps3/930074-mahjong-taikai-iv/faqs/57584
    >In this translation chart of Riichi terms from Japan to English
    >テソ ハ゜イ means Tenpai. I'm thinking the ステハイ is very similar and
    >so may have something to do with declaring Tenpai. Seems like there
    >should be some way provided to declare it. Although the program might
    >decide the whether the player and A.I. opponents are Nōten or Tenpai
    >without a declaration. I'm told that in real live person games, if you
    >are tenpai you can not declare it and so become Nōten by default. You
    >then pay the penalty if necessary, but do not have to show your tiles.
    >Rob and Linda, Modesto


    You're still around, Mah-jongg Master!

    >From: Hokule'a <dragonfly213
    >Sent: Friday, April 24, 2015 6:09 AM
    >Subject: You're still around, mahjong master! hello!
    >Hi Tom:
    >Due to job changes, I quite MJ for a couple of years. I was playing online since the early 1990s, and we had connected briefly back then. I wanted to find a place where I could watch a game with actual tiles, and even purchased an old bakelite set... I was having so much fun with chicken, 3 & 5 fan games.
    >I came back last night and realized Yahoo MJ was gone! But I did find Mahjongtime. Now I would like to final an actual MJ game I could watch.. still! :)
    >Thanks for your site, I will go look around. I didn't realize you were in L.A. I live not far from Chinatown in the Echo Park, Elysian Valley area. Maybe I should head down there to the park, and see what the elders are up to :)
    >take care Tom, Jeni

    >From: Jennifer Z via PayPal
    >To: Thomas Sloper
    >Sent: Friday, April 24, 2015 6:37 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Jennifer Z
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$20.00 USD from Jennifer Z. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $20.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Jennifer Z
    >Message: Thanks for being there for me back in the day, when online mahjong was in its infancy :) and thanks for continuing to be there!
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    >From: Hokule'a
    >Sent: Friday, April 24, 2015 6:42 AM
    >Subject: Re: You're still around, mahjong master! hello!
    >PS I just read your FAQ and see that you teach classes. Would there be a class I could attend or watch? How much do you charge? I can't believe we are in the same city! yay!

    Hi, Jeni.
    How nice to hear from someone from the old days! And thank you very much for the donation! People pay me to teach them (price varies depending on whether it's a private lesson or organized through an institution or organization), and if they're paying me, they would not welcome a non-paying "observer" getting learning for nothing. I teach American mah-jongg at the American Jewish University (new session starting this coming Friday). See http://wcce.aju.edu/
    I can also teach other mah-jongg variants if I am asked to do so by a group of students (a group of at least 3 players). I do not maintain a waiting list of individual players. I don't know what kind of mah-jongg you want to learn.
    As for software that enables spectating, all I can say is try the ones listed in FAQ 5 until you find one. If you can read Japanese, I think there are a couple that do permit spectating.
    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
    April 24, 2015


    Do I have to have a natural?

    >From: Nancy C
    >Sent: Thursday, April 23, 2015 9:36 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If I need a discarded tile for a ping or kong can I use 2 or 3 jokers
    >for the exposure with no natural tile from my hand?

    Hi, Nancy.
    Welcome to my website. This question has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-L. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 23, 2015


    Column 634, part 3

    >From: "craw311
    >Sent: Thursday, April 23, 2015 7:35 AM
    >Subject: #634
    >Hi,
    >Just wondering if Fran's counting of 7 tiles toward like numbers is correct for the 2015 card shich now has only two flowers not 4 as on the 2014 card, so I count only 6 tiles for like numbers????
    >Joyce

    You are right, Joyce. There are 6 tiles for Like Nos., and 6 tiles for Consec. #2 (and for both of those you are not making use of one of the flowers), and 7 tiles for Odds #5 (making full use of all flowers and most dots).
    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
    April 23, 2015


    Our slow player

    >From: Janet F
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 3:51 PM
    >Subject: Time frame for passing tiles in Charleston
    >Thank you in advance for helping our group stay friendly.
    >You have answered the question about taking too much time during play and I intend to purchase a sand timer as our problem is growing worse each week. However, does the same courtesy rule apply to passing during Charleston. We have one player who is taking up to 45 seconds or more between passes. I actually asked to look at the tiles I had passed her on the 2nd left, as I had forgotten what I passed. I had already picked up my 2nd left but just wanted to refresh my older memory. She bit my head off when I asked rather than just saying no. If she would pass faster I would not have a problem.
    >Janet F

    Hi, Janet. You wrote:

    does the same courtesy rule apply to passing during Charleston.
    Of course it does.

    our problem is growing worse each week.
    You could be saying that your slow player is slowing down. Or you could be saying that she's staying at the same speed but your patience is wearing out.

    We have one player who is taking up to 45 seconds or more between passes.
    Wow. I don't know how long one can put up with that. She must bake awfully good cookies!

    I actually asked to look at the tiles I had passed her on the 2nd left, as I had forgotten what I passed.
    I think it's bad etiquette to pick up again some tiles that you had already decided on and let go of. Once you passed those tiles, you committed to that pass. If you want to memorize every pass you make, that's your decision, your responsibility. It's on you to figure out how to remember (since that's what you're determined to do), no matter what distractions may pop up; I do not join you in blaming someone else for hindering your desire to memorize everything. There are memorization tricks; you can read up on them online, and you can make yourself become a memorizing maven.

    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
    April 22, 2015


    What does someone pay for discarding the winning tile when the winner is jokerless?

    >From: lindans3739 On Behalf Of Linda S
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 1:37 PM
    >To: Tom Sloper
    >Subject: Mah Jongg
    >HI Tom,
    >Here is the question we all are pondering.
    >A person Mah Jonggs and is jokerless. WE all pay double.
    >What does the person that gave her the Mah Jongg tile pay?
    >I have searched Elaine's book and for the life of me I can't find the answer.
    >HELP!!!!
    >Regards,
    >Linda S

    Not complicated, Linda.
    She pays double because she discarded the winning tile. And she pays double for jokerless. It's simple math. Double, then double again. I don't have access to my Sandberg book at the moment, so I can't cite you a page number. Just look on the card; it's all there on the back, right at the top.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 21, 2015


    What happens to a previous exposure when a player is declared dead?

    >From: Dorothy
    >Sent: Monday, April 20, 2015 9:14 PM
    >Subject: Question
    >When a player has 4 tiles already exposed, then draws a tile and exposes others to complete what she claims as Mah Jongg, but it is an erroneous Mah Jongg and she is called dead—what happens to the exposed tiles—both the original 4 tiles, then the tiles she put up to claim her erroneous Mah Jongg?
    >I looked all thru the questions, but guessed I must have missed it.
    > Thank you--

    See FAQ 19-P.
    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
    April 20, 2015


    Did I call too early? WWTD?

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Monday, April 20, 2015 7:24 PM
    >Subject: Taking an Early Stand?
    >Hi Tom,
    >Ended the Charleston with the following:
    >3D3D3D 4C 5D5D RR J eight out of 14 tiles towards Consecutive #4. The first or second round, a R was thrown and I called it.
    >After the hand, a woman of prominence who was a bystander at this event said I shouldn’t have called the R so early as it gave away my hand and she would have waited. (There are two other hands on the card with 3 Dragons.)
    >What say you?
    >Continued appreciation to you for sharing your expertise,
    >Donna
    >P.S. End of the story: Continued to get and call the 3 Dots and 5 Dots but didn’t end up making the hand as someone else was playing with 4C and I wasn’t lucky enough to pick Jokers this time.

    Hi Donna,
    I have two general rules:
    Don't call a discard unless you know how you're going to use it.
    Don't listen to people who give you strategy advice (well, okay, listen - but file away the advice for future reference rather than descending into a deep deep well of self-doubt).

    But all my advice depends on circumstances. Let's convert your hand to graphics for easier viewing:

    I have another general rule:
    Don't organize the tiles into one particular hand unless you've decided firmly to go for that hand to the exclusion of all other options.

    Since I have no idea what other 4 tiles you had in the hand, I can only see the same hand you already targeted. If you've definitely decided that's the hand you want to go for, you could call the R that came out. The lady is right, though, that since you know there's one more R in the deck, you could probably wait and see if that comes out (it is likely to do so, since anybody who gets it will not get any of its siblings). You said it's still early in the game:

    The first or second round
    The word "round" has a globally accepted meaning in mah-jongg - it means "each player has been dealer once." And you clearly did not mean that. There actually is no widely recognized mah-jongg term for "each player has taken a turn," and I know there's a need for such a term, so I made one up. I call that a "go-around."

    It is common practice to let the first wanted tile go by, and hold out until the last one comes out. But if you have more tiles than you did in this instance, then the heck with cautious defensive strategies!
    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
    April 20, 2015


    What if a caller calls for a discard at the exact femtosecond that the next player racks?

    >From: Sue W
    >Sent: Monday, April 20, 2015 6:35 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+At
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If one player calls for a discarded tile at exactly the same moment that the next player racks the tile
    >she picked, does she
    >get the tile or not?

    Hi, Sue.
    I have to ask: did the next player "pickandrack" aggressively quickly? Because if so, then the caller should get the discard. Or did the next player pause just a beat before picking, and did she bring the picked tile to her rack at a reasonably leisurely speed? Because if she did, then the player who spoke up to claim the discard was too slow.
    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
    April 20, 2015


    How does the color-coding work on the NMJL card?

    From: Linda J
    Sent: Sunday, April 19, 2015 8:54 PM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: on the 2015 card, under Seven Hands, each hand has a choice to play with 3 suits. For example, the first hand with 3 suits is listed as 4 flowers, 4 green ones, 2 red sixes, and 4 black sevens. Does this mean that the ones must be Bams, the sixes must be Craks, and the sevens must be Dots?
    >Thank you!
    >Linda

    Hi, Linda.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 16. You can link to the FAQs above left. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19, and the most frequently asked questions about the 2015 card are found in FAQ 16. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 19, 2015


    Scoring in Foster's Twenty Point Mah Jong

    >From: Dawn B
    >To: Mah Jong Tom Slope
    >Sent: Friday, April 17, 2015 2:17 PM
    >Subject: Re: mah jong Scoring Twenty Point via R.F. FOSTER ' Book
    >Hi Tom
    >Thank you for answering my questions below:
    >Doubles For All Hands
    >Flowers & Seasons
    >Player has their own "season" AND their own "flower"
    >? Player earns 1 double for own flower, either color AND same player earns 2 more doubles for having "both own flowers, each color " ?
    >For a total of 3 doubles?

    >From: Dawn B
    >To: Mah Jong Tom Slope
    >Sent: Friday, April 17, 2015 2:35 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jong Doubling Scoring Twenty Point via R.F. FOSTER ' Book
    >Player has a pong of dragons AND a pong of seasons of which one is their own.
    >? Player earns 1 double for own season flower AND ? Player earns 1 double for having pong of dragons AND ? Player earns 1 double for having 3 season flowers? Total doubles player earns is 3?
    >Thanks so much!
    >Dawn

    Hi, Dawn.

    Page 48: player earns 1 double for own flower (or season). So: if player has own flower and own season: 2 doubles (1 for flower, 1 for season). I do not see on page 48 anything that awards an extra double for having both. If you see that somewhere in the book, please tell me the page number and I'll have another look.

    Yes. See pages 56-60. Twenty Point Mah Jong permits using flowers in the hand and forming pungs for them but retains their exalted value (as Foster puts it on page 58, "concessions must be made to the popular demand"). So, per page 48, 1 double for a dragon pung, 1 double for a pung of flowers or seasons ("red flowers or green flowers"), and 1 double for own flower or season.

    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
    April 17, 2015


    Column #634, part 2

    >From: Fran S
    >Sent: Friday, April 17, 2015 5:10 AM
    >Subject: Response Comment for Weekly Column #634
    >Thanks for posting my comment, Tom! To complete my analysis: I would pass the 5D, 7D, and 2B and hold onto the 1s and 2s for consecutive hands with flowers in case more 3s don't come my way.
    >Fran S.

    Good morning, Fran.
    So you would say goodbye to Odds #5 (7 tiles) in favor of Consec. #2 (6 tiles). Okay. To each her own. I would keep Odds #5, and I like your Like Numbers option. That would leave me four tiles I could pass from: 7D 1C 2C 2B.
    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
    April 17, 2015


    Column #634

    >From: Fran S
    >Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2015 7:37 PM
    >Subject: Comment for Weekly Column #634
    >Tom,
    >Love your website! For WWYP #7, what about like numbers due to all those 3's with the 3 flowers? There's 7 tiles at the get-go for that hand.
    >Francine S

    Very good, Fran. But you haven't finished your analysis. One of the two hands I'd mentioned uses only 6 of the tiles. Which one, and based on that, what 3 tiles would you pass? I'll append this to the column.
    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
    April 16, 2015


    Today an incident happened

    >From: Rosemary R
    >Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2015 2:24 PM
    >Subject: Question
    >Today an incident happen at play. The lady to my right discarded a 9bam and I called for it. I put in on display on my rack along with 2 others and a joker. ....and discarded a different tile. The lady to my right then picked up the tile that I had just discarded...but she had not yet racked it. Then, the lady across from me woke up and said to me, "Oh, I wanted that 9 bam that you just picked up and displayed. I was the next in turn to play, so I had first dibs on it". She maintained that the next player, the one to my right, had not yet racked the tile she picked up, so the play was still open. I maintain that the play ended when I put the 9bam on display on my rack and discarded another tile. Certainly her right to the tile ended when I discarded a tile and the player to my right picked it up. Who's right?

    Hi, Rosemary.
    Take a look at Frequently Asked Question 19-H (read the entire answer, don't stop until you get to FAQ 19-I). You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 16, 2015


    What if everybody wants to blind pass in the Charleston?

    Somebody emailed me today and asked me what to do if nobody has 3 tiles to pass in the Charleston. I don't know how it happened, but I can't find the email now; it's vanished! The answer to this frequently-asked question has been given in column #534 (August 26, 2012 - you can scroll to it in the nav frame at top, or in the "Frequently referenced columns" in the main frame at bottom). I hope the email's writer comes back and finds this!
    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
    Tax Day, 2015


    Of experienced players who don't want to play with beginners, part 2

    >From: "Puffins
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 8:25 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Tom hi,
    >The other day on your Q and A (which I love) a person was asking about how to deal with a mixed abilities of 12 players. We had the very same situation but we are about 25 players at a City Center who play every Friday. As I teach more classes, newer players join this group. We had some resistance, like you said from those who have been playing "forever" but it's gotten a lot better.
    >I posed the question on Ann Israel's site Mahjonggandme.com
    >and here's the link to her suggestions. You may use or modify however you like with her permission.
    >http://mahjonggandme.com/2015/02/27/asking-for-your-opinions/
    >Thank you for all of your wonderful expertise!
    >Donna E
    >Santa Maria, CA

    Thanks, Donna. I hope Pat L finds helpful tips there.
    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
    April 15, 2015


    LCD Dot Matrix System, part IV

    >From: tooelemountains
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 9:04 AM
    >Subject: What the ステハイ button does?
    >Seller shipped the Perfect Mahjong II same day as purchased. Still, The tracking number all the way from Osaka says "Estimated delivery Monday Apr 27-Friday May 8, 2015". Long wait, glad I purchased upgraded shipping but still 12 to 23 more days.... :/. But thanks to you and Ray for supplying the translation help which I needed!
    >Robert


    LCD Dot Matrix System, part III

    >From: RayHeaton
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 11:31 PM
    >Subject: LCD Dot Matrix System
    >Hi Tom,
    >Further to Rob's interesting purchase, ステハイ, Sutehai, or in Chinese 捨牌 (the pinyin is "she pai") does indeed mean "discard", (literally "abandon tile"); but as you say, how the button is actually used to discard may need a bit of a try out.
    >Regards
    >Ray

    Thanks, Ray. Last night I looked in my Japanese-English dictionary. There were a number of words beginning with "su te" and the one for "dump" seemed likely, but without the time to sit and play mah-jongg on the device, I wasn't sure. I won't have time today or tomorrow, and I suppose Rob will have his by Friday.
    Cheers! 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
    IRS Day, 2015


    LCD Dot Matrix System; Perfect Mahjong II  (part II)

    >From: tions
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 9:38 PM
    >Subject: What the ステハイ button does?
    >Not a question, but here's the link to a giant picture of the handheld:
    >http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTIwMFgxNjAw/z/NGEAAOSw0e9U0GmY/$_57.JPG
    >Regards, Rob in Stockton, Calif.

    Okay. Would you believe, I was looking for something else, and found my Perfect Mahjong II. Now all I need is free time to put batteries in it and fiddle with it. You'll get to do that before I do!
    - Tom


    Can't I redeem a joker atop my own rack?

    >From: sharon m
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 8:41 PM
    >Subject: joker
    >Hi Tom,
    >I hope that you can help me with this problem.
    >I was doing the hand with 4 flowers, 4 dragons, 4 dragons and 2 dragons.
    >I called for 4 greens. I exposed them as follows. 2 jokers 1 green from my hand and the other green that I called from the table..I should have put down 2 greens and 1 joker from my hand and the called green.
    >After about 4 or 5 hands, I realized that I made a mistake and still had 1 green in my hand that I could replace with 1 of the jokers that I had exposed . Am I allowed to exchange the green that was in my hand with a joker from my rack even though the green was already in my hand and not my kicker?
    >The girls told me NO WAY. I told them that they were wrong and I could exchange the green anytime for the joker,
    >Please let me know the right way.
    >Thanks in advance for your answer.
    >Regards
    >Sharon m

    Hi, Sharon. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-M. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 14, 2015


    Bashi-Bashi

    >From: Vladimir ല
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 8:48 PM
    >Subject: "Bashi-Bashi" mahjong rules
    >Mr. Sloper:
    >With the aid of the Internet Archive and my decent knowledge of Japanese, I've found out some more information about the obscure "Bashi-Bashi" version of mahjong which you might find interesting.
    >It seems to have more in common with the three-player "Toutenkou" rules, played mostly in the Kantou region of Japan (http://magazine.mahjong-rule.com/colmun82.html). In both versions the 1-character, 9-character, and North tiles are all immediately set aside when drawn like flowers, and can't be used in the hand unless one is trying to make kokushi musou.
    >~ Tiles in set: 108 (The character tiles from 2 to 8 aren't used, or at least don't seem to be - Source: http://mahjong.or.jp/column/miyake/1153.html).
    >~ Flowers: None (I can't say for sure how many red fives of which suit are used, as most the images on the website are broken).
    >~ Scoring: Count the points.
    >~ Payment: Unknown (It's unclear how the value of the winning hand is paid by one or both losers, split between them, or anything else).
    >~ Books: None (None that I can find, anyway).
    >I've also done a preliminary translation of the rules, if you'd be interested in that as well.

    Hi, Vladimir.
    Thanks for writing me! Yes, I am interested in knowing more, thank you. The thing you said about 1C 9C and N being treated as flowers is consistent with the 3-player Japanese rules I described in FAQ 13C. The game you describe differs from the Bashi-Bashi rules I describe in FAQ 2B - I guess mine is "Bashi-Bashi A" and yours is "Bashi-Bashi B." The sites you cited are in Japanese, so I guess you can read Japanese? My Nihongo isn't that great, so I usually have to rely on digital translations. Thanks for this info -- I'll add it to FAQ 2B when I can!
    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
    Lincoln Assassination Sesquicentennial Day


    LCD Dot Matrix System; Perfect Mahjong II

    >From: tions
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 9:33 PM
    >Subject: What the ステハイ button does?
    >In mahjong column 9-14-2008 you describe a hanheld electronic device
    >that plays riichi mahjong. The Bandai Perfect Mahjong II. I have also
    >purchased one that is coming in the mail, not in my possession yet.
    >Normally I play Hong Kong Mahjong which is popular on the West Coast due
    >to Asian population here. So I have been playing riichi online (free) to
    >learn that version of mahjong at
    >http://www.gamedesign.jp/flash/mahjong/mahjong_e.html.
    >Looking at your picture of the handheld I recognize the 5 red buttons
    >and 4 of the 5 black buttons.
    >My question is what the ステハイ does???
    >Doing some online translation homework, I deduce:
    >14 buttons A through N. Discard that tile from the line of 14 tiles on
    >the rail.
    >ポン) = PON (PONG) - Red button on the left. Claim discard tile to
    >make a Pong.
    >チー =CHI (CHOW) - Red button second from left. Claim tile to make
    >a Chow.
    >カン = KAN (KONG) - Red button third from left. Claim tile to make
    >a Kong.
    >リーチ =RICHI - Red button fourth left. Announce Richi
    >that you need one tile to win.
    > アガ リ = RON/AGARI (WIN) - Red button right. Claim win/mahjong.*
    >ツモ TSUMO - (WIN) Under the N button. Claim Win/mahjong by
    >self pick instead of taking a discard.
    >There are also five black buttons on the right.
    >Top three black buttons are labeled in English: Power, Sound, Select and
    >their use is obvious.
    >スコア is "SCORE" Black button on bottom. Ask to display the score on
    >the screen.
    >ステハイ Is (I have no clue). ステハイ does not translate to English at
    >any online site I have tried.
    >This is the fourth black button, and I have no clue !
    >*(ア same character as あ). Japan's two writing systems, katakana and
    >hiragana.
    >So, アガ リ = あがり = WIN
    >Robert in Stockton, California

    Hi, Robert!
    That's cool that you have found a rare LCD Dot Matrix System; Perfect Mahjong II. Mine is in a box somewhere, not retrieved from the box since a move a few months ago. I'm not sure which box, or where the box is exactly. So I can't tell you what the ステハイ button does. "ハイ" means "hai" which means "pai" which means "tile." So the only question then is what ステ means. It reads "SUTE." That probably is supposed to be pronounced "ste," and I don't know what that stands for. It might mean "dump" (discard the currently highlighted tile). Or it might have to do with "stepping," it might refer to the most recent discard -- take it, or skip it, or step to a different tile in the hand so that different tile can be discarded. I really don't know. Your other translations are correct. When your device arrives, you can play with it and I think you'll be able to figure it out. Do write me again after you receive it!
    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
    Lincoln Assassination Sesquicentennial day


    Of soaps, dead jokers, and stuck-up/impatient experienced players

    >From: Pat Andreana L
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 7:17 PM
    >Subject: Mah jongg questions
    >Hi Tom
    >The question is if i have 4 tiles (soaps) exposed, one of which is a joker. I have the other soap in my hand and decide to call the last 2 bam I exchanged the soap for the joker and exposed three jokers and the bam. Is that allow?
    >The second question is if a player exposes and is playing a closed hand and we call her dead, Are the jokers still alive if the exposure caused her to be dead?
    >The third is a little more sticky
    >We have about 12 girls that play at different levels. How do we solve this problem as the experienced players do not want to play with newbies.
    >Thank you
    >Pat L

    Hi, Pat. You asked:

    i have 4 tiles (soaps) exposed, one of which is a joker. I have the other soap in my hand and decide to call the last 2 bam I exchanged the soap for the joker and exposed three jokers and the bam. Is that allow?
    Your question is unclear, Pat. If you are asking "can I redeem a joker before taking a discard for an exposure using that joker," then read Frequently Asked Question 19-M. (You can link to the FAQs above left.) Or if your question is, "can I use a joker in a 2015," then read Frequently Asked Question 19-E.

    if a player exposes and is playing a closed hand and we call her dead, Are the jokers still alive if the exposure caused her to be dead?
    Read Frequently Asked Question 19-P. You can link to the FAQs above left. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    How do we solve this problem as the experienced players do not want to play with newbies.
    I don't know. Maybe you can't. You didn't say why you want them to - I assume you want that for the benefit of your newbies (and at the expense of your experienced players who don't want to play with the newbies). If people are playing casually and socially, and if you have some players who are snooty and look down on beginners, or players who are impatient with beginners, then I do not have any magic for you. If you ever organize them into a tournament, then for the duration of the tournament everyone has to play with the people they're assigned to play with - but some of your experienced players may not want to join your tournament, and some of your beginner players may be too intimidated to join it.
    Sad to say, this division between experienced players and novice players is a problem that's been part of mah-jongg going back to the roaring Twenties, and probably farther. The only real solution that I know of is to give it time; your novices will get better over time.

    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
    April 14, 2015


    She yelled at me for stopping the Charleston!

    >From: Shirley H
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 4:16 PM
    >Subject: Strategy
    >I was chastised for stopping the game when I had multiple ways to go. I know that it is not a rule but I wonder about the strategy and didn’t find one on your site. I do not stop a game if I only have two tiles I don’t wand. This time the “experienced player” was watching me play. I was going for the “C” 13579 hand, on the 2014 card and I had 3 suits and only #s 13579. Was she correct? She said at the most I would only loose 1 tile in the 2nd Charleston.
    >Shirley

    Hi, Shirley. You wrote:

    I was chastised for stopping the game when I had multiple ways to go.
    You must be talking about the Charleston, right? Nobody has the right to stop a "game." But anybody has the right to stop a Charleston, for any reason or for no reason.

    I know that it is not a rule
    But it IS a rule! Read the official rulebook ("Mah Jongg Made Easy") on page 12: "The second Charleston is optional. It is permitted only if the four players agree. If any player objects, the second Charleston is not played." See? There IS a rule, and it says you can do what you did! Need more proof? Check out what the League said in the January 2005 bulletin: "Any player may stop the Charleston [after] the first three ... passes without giving a reason for doing so..."

    but I wonder about the strategy and didn’t find one on your site.
    Strategy, schmategy! If you want to stop it, you can just stop it! Are you new to my website? Read Frequently Asked Question 19-AG. You can link to the FAQs above left. If some biddy gets her panties up in a knot because you stopped the Charleston, just ignore her! Stand up for your rights!

    She said at the most I would only loose [sic] 1 tile in the 2nd Charleston.
    And you should give up a tile so she can have her second Charleston? (The 2nd across is a big risk you take if you don't stop the Charleston, as I've said several times in my strategy column.) Pshaw! Stand up for your rights! You want to stop the Charleston? It's your right to do so. If somebody asks "why are you stopping?" then you can answer, "because the rules permit it. Read the rulebook." And if she says she doesn't have a rulebook, pull out yours and show it to her, right there on page 12.

    This has happened to me too (in case you couldn't tell). Rule-abiding players of mah-jongg, unite!

    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
    Lincoln Assassination Sesquicentennial Day


    The League told me "Any No. in Run" is a typo!

    >From: Barbara P
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 11:44 AM
    >Subject: 2015 Quints #2
    >Hey Tom -
    >My MJ group has a difference of opinion regarding Quints #2.
    >Some said it had to be the same order as shown on the card - meaning the pair had to be listed First.
    >I checked your Blog and printed out your page that indicated the pair could be in the middle or the end.
    >Of course I was positive you were right!
    >Just got a call from a member telling me she called the National Mahjongg League -- they positively said the pair had to be the First number -- so still being a doubter -- I called the League. I argued for 5 minutes but they said the pair had to be the First number -- and they were sorry for any confusion!
    >So what's up? They don't know English?
    >Old Lady MJ player from Texas

    Howdy, Barbara. You should not telephone the League. You get reliable answers only by sending in a self-addressed stamped envelope. It's silly that someone who answered the phone would say that you have to ignore "Any No. in Run" in that hand - that is at odds with how the hand has been interpreted the previous times that hand was used on the card (in fact, the League used to have an explanation of that hand on their website - but they don't archive previous years' explanations).
    I hope you wrote down the time and date of the call, and the name of the person you spoke with. Mention those details when you send in your letter. If the parenthetical on that hand should be ignored, then what other parentheticals must we also ignore? It makes no sense (what you were told over the phone).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    The 150th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination


    What updates were made to FAQ 19 when?

    >From: Carroll L
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 12:19 PM
    >Subject: FAQ #19
    >Good afternoon,
    > I would like to thank you for all the work that you do on the FAQ#19, I have made reference to many of pages for answers to questions.
    > The copy I have been referring to was last updated May 2014 and I just went back on the web site and noticed that the latest update is now December 2014 (will there be another shortly?)
    > Rather than try and go through 32 pages to see where the updates are, is there anyway you can tell me what items have been updated for December 2014.
    > Thank you in advance,
    >Carroll L

    Good afternoon, Carroll. That FAQ was updated as recently as yesterday, actually. I often forget to change the update date at the top -- I have changed it now, and provided a link to where I log all updates. I have to confess, though, that sometimes I've been rather lazy about noting exactly what change was made. You can see the log of changes to the FAQs at http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/log.html. Updates are listed in chronological order, so you have to scroll down to the bottom to see what the latest update is.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    The 150th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination


    Do we have to do a Charleston with three players?

    >From: Vicky L B
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 6:49 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Sometimes we end up with only 3 players at table. I am a newer player, so still learning about all rules. When we play with three players, we do not have the Charleston. We only have courtesy with two across from each other passing to each other, and the one choosing from wall across from them, replacing taken tiles with three from their hand.
    >Now, another group tells me we should have Charleston, using the lone wall to do Charleston with.
    >Is it a firm rule that always doing Charleston, regardless of having three or four persons at table?
    >Vicky L B

    Hi, Vicky.
    Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (or (even better) my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3. You can link to the FAQs above left. The question you ask is answered on page 23 of the official rulebook.
    Since you don't have a rulebook, you can get your answer right now by reading Frequently Asked Question 13-A. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in the FAQs. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 14, 2015


    Need help selling mah jong sets

    >From: Tarra S
    >Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 11:18 AM
    >Subject: Need help selling mah jong sets
    >I'm looking for help selling some mah jong sets. They were my mom's, but she passed away a couple of years ago, and now I'm trying to go thru what she has. The problem is some of her sets got blended together, and I've never played before so I have no idea how many tiles are supposed to be in them, how many trays, what about the little disk things, are those important? I have pictures, but I see that your website says there must be loads of details and I don't know anything about them to describe them.
    >She had about 3-4 sets. One set is relatively brand new, I believe she bought it not long before she passed, so its in a soft case, with all the trays and tiles still wrapped, however she also has two of the fake looking aligator brief cases with a bunch of trays in one and sets of tiles in the other, plus a gallon size bag of more tiles, so I think two sets got blended.
    >I live in San Diego so if you happen to know somewhere I can bring them into and sell them that would be great. Otherwise any advice you can give me is appreciated. Such as what do sets sell for when they're not antiques, just regular old sets.
    >Tarra

    Hello, Tarra. You wrote:

    I have no idea how many tiles are supposed to be in them
    Read FAQ 7A and FAQ 7B. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    how many trays, what about the little disk things
    Read FAQ 7D.

    I don't know anything about them to describe them.
    You could save yourself the work of doing research and just give them to Goodwill. If you want to get money for them, you have to do the research (read my FAQs).

    I think two sets got blended.
    Maybe sell them together. Or do the research and un-blend them.

    if you happen to know somewhere I can bring them into and sell them
    Best place to sell things is on eBay.

    Such as what do sets sell for when they're not antiques, just regular old sets.
    Go on eBay and see what similar sets sell for. And read FAQ 7N. Good luck!

    May the tiles no longer be with you soon.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 13, 2015


    Two Chinese superstitions

    >From: "row019
    >Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 4:50 AM
    >Subject: mah jongg question
    >Tom - one of the women I play American mah jongg with lived in Taiwan for a number of years. She watched people there play. When doing the Charleston if a wall only had 2 remaining tiles, so that another wall had to come out for that player to get their 4 tiles - this was considered lucky and was called a HopToi (she knows chinese but doesn't know the spelling). No one is supposed to touch the tiles except the person who's tiles they are.
    > Since you know all about Mah jongg, I wondered if you knew anything about this.
    > Thank you, Phyllis

    Hi, Phyllis. You asked:

    When doing the Charleston if a wall only had 2 remaining tiles, so that another wall had to come out for that player to get their 4 tiles - this was considered lucky and was called a HopToi... I wondered if you knew anything about this.
    Yes. Many American players, too, say "hop toi" or something when skipping or hopping to get the four tiles (I have experience of that in L.A. groups I've played with). The Chinese do not do a Charleston (you're not talking about the Charleston - you're talking about the deal, which is done the same in all forms of mah-jongg). The saying probably is based on some Chinese superstition. No idea if it's celebrating "good luck" or rather wishing for good luck because it's bad luck that one's four tiles are separated. By the way, in the times I played in tournaments in China, I never once heard anybody say "hop toi" when picking up a split foursome.

    No one is supposed to touch the tiles except the person who's [sic] tiles they are... I wondered if you knew anything about this.
    This is not a superstition. It's common sense. If somebody else hands you tiles, how can you be sure there wasn't some sleight of hand involved? Many American players will slap you down if you touch their tiles. If you scroll down on this board, you'll find several questions about this.

    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
    April 13, 2015


    There's no parenthetical

    >From: Lori Berti P
    >Sent: Sunday, April 12, 2015 5:21 PM
    >Subject: Question about 2015 card
    >Hi Tom,
    >I'm hoping this isn't a dumb question and I think I know the answer but, I'm sure it's going to come up in my weekly group so I thought it best to get confirmation from the expert.
    >In Evens number 3 and Odds number 3 there is the option of completing the hand in all one suit or what looks like 3 suits. I'm just not sure it's 3 suits because it doesn't state so in a parenthetical nor does it indicate 2 suits any Dragon. I would appreciate your call on this.
    >Thanks
    >Lori P

    Hi, Lori.
    Welcome to my website. You're asking, "what if there's no parenthetical?" Please read FAQ 19-AJ. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 12, 2015


    Is this Mahjong, or is it an offshoot?

    >From: Colleen W
    >Sent: Saturday, April 11, 2015 5:31 PM
    >Subject: Emailing: IMG_3709
    >Your message is ready to be sent with the following file or link
    >attachments:
    >IMG_3709
    >my son came across this set at a rummage sale
    >i was wondering what is it fully, is it Mahjong or an offshoot of that
    >tile game
    >i know that it can't be very old because it has plastic pieces in it
    >any info would be helpful
    >just trying to find a home for it with someone that would appreciate the
    >game and not use it as a collector peice
    > M Wardin
    >Midland Mi

    Hi, Colleen. Yes, it's a mah-jongg set. If you have any other questions, please check FAQ 7 (you can link to the FAQs above left).
    May the tiles be with you... Oh wait, they already are.
    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
    April 11, 2015


    Do you have to say "call" when you call?

    >From: "row019
    >Sent: Saturday, April 11, 2015 10:56 AM
    >Subject: american mahjong question
    >Does the word CALL have to be used to call for a discarded tile? can you say other things ( I'll take that, I want that, etc)? I don't see that the rules specifically say.
    >thank you, Phyllis

    Hi, Phyllis.
    I gather that you have the official rulebook, "Mah Jongg Made Easy," and have seen what it says on page 14. All it says there is, "As soon as the tile is discarded, any of the other players wanting that tile for an exposure has a right to claim it..."
    As you can see, the official rulebook is worded very loosely. It does not say that any specific words are required. (Therefore no specific words are required).
    Now open your copy of my book ("The Red Dragon & The West Wind"), to page 52:

      59. To claim a discard, the player must vocalize the claim.

        a. The player may say anything that clearly and unambiguously lets the other player know that she is claiming the discard. Unlike all other forms of mah-jongg, the player should not say "pung" or "kong," rather she may say simply, "I want that" or "call" or "take," for instance.
        b. The player must speak the claim loudly and clearly enough that all players can hear the claim.
        c. The player must speak the claim while the window of opportunity is open (before the next player racks or discards).

    Everyone should have a copy of the official rulebook (and should read it all the way through), even if it is worded rather loosely. Good for you that you have one!
    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
    April 2, 2015


    Set age

    >From: Felice
    >Sent: Thursday, April 9, 2015 6:07 PM
    >Subject: Love, love, love your webpage!!!
    >Question:
    >How can identify the year of a Cardinal Mah Jongg Set on eBay? I do not think many are accurate.
    >For example:
    >1950?? It has 10 Jokers??
    >12 Flowers
    >8 Seasons
    >Bright White Front and Bright Green Backs
    >And 2 Blanks
    >And I looked up Jokers and NMJL dates???
    >Help!!!
    >I am interested in what I look for to determine a Complete Set for date of tile set.
    >Felice


    Hi, Felice. You wrote:

    How can identify the year of a Cardinal Mah Jongg Set
    I don't know, Felice. I am not an expert on manufacturers. Your eBay seller says the set is a Cardinal set. I don't know that it is! You might want to check CHarli's website (she's the main expert on American set manufacturers that I know of on the Web). I have a link to her website in FAQ 4a (you can link to my FAQs above left).

    It has 10 Jokers??
    >12 Flowers
    That photo is laid out confusingly. I counted 20 flowers. The eBay page says the set is from 1950. That makes no sense, since the National Mah Jongg League didn't require jokers until a decade later.

    And I looked up Jokers and NMJL dates???
    I have that information on this site, too. Column 509, February 26, 2012. I haven't compared the info you found with my info - I assume they're the same.

    I am interested in what I look for to determine a Complete Set for date of tile set.
    I'm sorry, your question is not clear. Can you restate the question?

    I am pretty certain that the pictured set dates later than 1971. And I imagine the set could have been manufactured in China (Cardinal was an American manufacturer, I believe). Chinese manufacturers often include extra jokers and flowers because of all the fluctuation in the League's requirements (even though that fluctuation ended in 1971). I would not trust that seller.

    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
    Appomattox Sesquicentennial Day, 2015


    Want to learn, know nothing etc. (part 2)

    >From: Linda West
    >Sent: Thursday, April 9, 2015 11:14 AM
    >Subject: Re: Find Players/Teachers
    >Thank you!
    >Will follow your instructions. I also have a copy of your book on the way from Amazon.
    >Linda

    Although I'm happy you bought my book, I wouldn't have recommended you buy it until you were sure you wanted to learn about American-style mah-jongg or the Chinese Competition Rules.
    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
    Appomattox Sesquicentennial Day, 2015


    Want to learn, know nothing about which variant I should learn

    >From: Linda West <west.lld©gmail.com>
    >Sent: Thursday, April 9, 2015 10:39 AM
    >Subject: Find Players/Teachers
    >Location (city and state or zip code): Lee's Summit, MO (southeast suburb of Kansas City, MO)
    >The mah-jongg variant I play is: I don't know. I am completely new to the game, know nothing about it. I want the most challenging, most competitive, element-o-luck-removed-to-the-greatest-extent-possible version. I am a Silver Life Master duplicate bridge player, if that helps.
    >Thank you,
    >Linda West

    Hi, Linda.
    I think you'll have better luck finding someone to teach you if you complete the "Which Rules Should I Learn" FAQ, "Frequently Asked Question" 2-A. You can link to the FAQs above left. While you're at it, I recommend you also read FAQ 15.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Appomattox Sesquicentennial Day, 2015


    Can I take a discard to expose a 2015 (not for mah-jongg)?

    >From: Jane G
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 7, 2015 8:23 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If I play a hand with 2015 in it, can I call a tile to complete this group? For example, I have the 2, 1 and the 5, so can I call the dragon tile to complete the 2015 even if it is not for Mah Jongg?

    Hi, Jane.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 16. You can link to the FAQs above left. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in the FAQs. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 7, 2015


    Column 633

    >From: "lindaz...
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 7, 2015 6:14 AM
    >Subject: column 363 [sic]
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks SO much for this 4 step exercise. Learning which tiles are "friends" eliminates a lot of confusion in deciding what to. pass, Once I become more familiar with the new card the elimination process should become easier. Thanks for all you do to increase the enjoyment of the game. .Your logic and reason help a lot!
    >Best, Linda

    Linda, I'm glad it's helping!
    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
    April 7, 2015


    Can I use a joker in Singles and Pairs #6?

    >From: Ruth H
    >Sent: Monday, April 6, 2015 5:11 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >?on the 2015 card, can I replace the 998 99887 998877 hand with jokers?
    >Thanks.?

    Hi, Ruth.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 16. You can link to the FAQs above left. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about mah-jongg are found in the FAQs. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Also: every player should read everything on the NMJL card. 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
    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
    April 6, 2015


    I haven't received my cards yet

    >From: Wendy S
    >Sent: Sunday, April 5, 2015 4:12 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I ordered 4 cards on Match 3. Order confirmed but have not received my cards.
    >Wendy
    >S
    >[contact information deleted]

    Hi, Wendy.
    I never heard of Match 3; is that a new website for mah-jongg merchandise? Sounds like a casual game (in the game industry, we call Bejeweled and Diamond Dash "match 3" games). Or maybe you meant March 3 (I see you emailed me from a mobile phone).
    And maybe you thought I could do something about your order? I don't intermediate complaints for the National Mah Jongg League.
    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
    April 5, 2015


    New column posted today

    Column 633 is online now. It's a WWYP (what would you pass) for the new 2015 card, walking through the four steps. In most of this week's examples, you only need steps one and two (no need to go on to steps three and four if you've already figured out what three tiles to pass).
    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
    April 5, 2015


    The 2015 card

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Sunday, March 29, 2015 12:57 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Tom, received my card on Friday. I noticed another thing that changed on the back of the card. A missing sentence: "At no time may a tile be called to complete a pair or a single tile, including flower for anything but Mah Jongg in an Exposed or Concealed Hand." I am sure that the league did not intend to change this rule, so I wonder why they left it out.
    >BTW, W-D #5 also had the only WWW in a concealed hand last year. One lady of our group was called dead several times last year on that hand.
    >Cheers,
    >Bee

    Hi, Bee. I found your email in my Spam folder when I was cleaning it out today. I think it is not significant that the League removed that rule from the back of the card. They could have left it in and deleted "including flower" and "in an Exposed or Concealed Hand," and the rule would be a bit clearer, I suppose.
    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
    April 4, 2015


    Is this a real rule, part 3 (belatedly found in the Spam folder)

    >From: "sharonpoodles
    >Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2015 8:31 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Clarification it's after the courtesy pass that they do the mish mash Thanks again Sharon


    Does "any" really mean "any"?

    >From: Randy M
    >Sent: Friday, April 3, 2015 5:12 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Example: NEWS FFF 222 4444 (any diff evens, 1 or 2 suits)
    >Can your different "evens" be "any"...meaning for example 444 8888 or 222 6666 etc. or do the evens have to consecutive?

    Hi, Randy.
    What card is that hand from? It's not NMJL. Anyway, to address your question (bold & italics added):

    Example: NEWS FFF 222 4444 (any diff evens, 1 or 2 suits)
    >Can your different "evens" be "any"...
    That is what it says. It clearly says "any". The words in parentheses always trump whatever the color-coded symbols say.

    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
    April 3, 2015


    Donation

    >From: "service@paypal.com"
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    >Sent: Friday, April 3, 2015 5:46 AM
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    >PayPal
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    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >You received a payment from Anita F for Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
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    Thank you, Anita!
    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
    April 3, 2015


    Placing discard in hand, part 2

    >From: Zoe Green
    >Sent: Thursday, April 2, 2015 1:38 PM
    >Subject: Re: Placing discard in hand before exposing.
    >We all sat there and tried to figure out how you can cheat doing this, but we could't figure it out. Since you have to expose the identical tiles to the one you picked up, they have to be in your hand, and the person who threw it knows what tile she threw.. If I were a slight of hand artist I could cheat a lot of ways! So can you explain to me how cheating can occur by doing this?

    Hi, Zoe. You wrote:

    We all sat there and tried to figure out how you can cheat doing this
    WHY?? Why not just accept that it affords a miscreant an opportunity to cheat, and leave it at that? In my opinion, it's a blessing that you can't figure out how.

    If I were a slight [sic] of hand artist I could cheat a lot of ways! So can you explain to me how cheating can occur by doing this?
    A sleight of hand artist might covet a tile other than the one most recently discarded. Knowing that the odds are that nobody is watching closely, she could grab the one she wants (and, if necessary, the one she's calling), put that in her hand, make an exposure, and have an extra tile, either on the rack or hidden in her lap. If that explanation isn't good enough, it'll have to do, because I do not like to broadcast cheating tips.
    I played in Denmark against a cheater once. Even though I made the famous and very valuable "Thirteen Orphans" hand from him in 2007, he still beat me that round. You can see pictures at http://sloperama.com/copenhagen/copenhagen3.htm and read about that incident at http://sloperama.com/mahjongg/column325.htm.


    Copenhagen, 2007. L-R: Chris Redmond (UK), Eduardo Herrera (SP), me (US), and the cheater, Tatsuro Tanioka (JP)

    I also wrote about a cheater at a Los Angeles tournament in 2010. See http://sloperama.com/mahjongg/column437cheat.htm.

    And for more about cheating, read http://sloperama.com/mahjongg/column412cheat.htm and http://sloperama.com/mahjongg/column403a.htm

    May the tiles be with you, Zoe.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 2, 2015


    Placing discard in hand before exposing

    >From: Zoe Green
    >Sent: Thursday, April 2, 2015 2:08 AM
    >Subject: Placing discard in hand before exposing.
    >Hi Tom! It's Zoe Green
    >On for FAQ 19, letter K, some one asked if she is dead if she puts a discard into her hand before she exposes. Your answer was that she is not dead if she exposes for Maj Jongg. What if she accidentally places the discard into her hand before she exposes during the game if she is not declaring Maj Jongg? Is she dead? This is at a home game not a tournament.
    >I have done this, I have placed the tile in my rack next to the tiles that I am pulling out for an exposure, then put the whole set atop my rack a once. One of the players gives me a rough time about it an threatens to call me dead. In your book it says i can be called dead if the group agrees, which starts everyone arguing! So what is it? Am I dead or not. Is it just a bad habit to do it? I find it harmless.
    >Looking to settle this.
    >Zoe Green

    Hi, Zoe.
    The League has not issued a rule about placing a taken discard in the hand before exposing. Personally, I think it's a bad idea to ever place a taken discard in the hand. Especially before exposing, because it's possible to cheat when doing so. I disagree with the League's 2013 rule (per FAQ 19-K) that it's permitted to put the taken discard in the hand while declaring mah-jongg, but I suppose it can be justified since the player is going to display the entire hand, and players get "full disclosure." But I think it's still possible to cheat that way.
    It can be argued that since the League has expressly permitted it for a win but has not mentioned it for exposure, that the one is permitted and the other is not.
    It can also be argued that since the League has not issued a rule in writing, there's no rule.
    Your group has begun a discussion about this; why don't you all come to an agreement as to how you will handle this. My opinion is that a taken discard should never be put into the hand, and that's why I teach my students never to do it.
    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
    April 2, 2015


    Mah-jongg in error

    >From: Susan B
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 1, 2015 5:24 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player picked a tile and declared MahJongg. Then they realized that it was wrong. Do they discard the tile they picked? Discard any tile? Keep all 14 tiles and the next player plays?
    >Thank you!
    >Susan

    Hi, Susan.
    You say she "picked" the tile. I assume you mean she got it from the wall. You say she declared mah-jongg, but you didn't say if she exposed any tiles. If she didn't expose any tiles, she can discard whatever she wants, and continue playing. If she exposed, then she's dead. She must put her freshly exposed tiles back in the rack, and stop playing (note: dead players do not discard). If you have my book, read rule 98 on page 62 and you'll know everything you need to know about an erroneous mah-jongg declaration.
    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
    April 1, 2015


    The color-coding of the new Quints #3 is contradicted by its parenthetical

    >From: Lisa K
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 7:04 PM
    >Subject: New 2015 Card Question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Tonight I played a quints hand. Because of the wording in the parenthesis (emphasizing the word any), it is unclear if the dragon has to match the quint number. As this is usually the case, I am confused.
    >I played the NNNNN DDDD 11111 hand using (5) Norths, (4) Green Dragons, and (5) 2 Bams knowingly, but I am still not sure because of the color-coded hand on the card. My friends honored my win, but I am going to ask anyway.
    >Please advise when you get a chance.
    >Thanks,
    >Lisa

    Hi, Lisa.
    This hand was also on the 2013 card and the 2010 card, so I've explained this 2 years ago and 5 years ago, in FAQ 16. Within the past hour, I created a new update to FAQ 16, to explain the hands on the 2015 card that cause the most confusion. Please read FAQ 16. You can link to the Frequently Asked Questions above left. While you're at it, read FAQ 19-J as well.
    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
    March 31, 2015


    The split sextets on the 2015 card

    >From: Diane H.
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 8:53 AM
    >Subject: Split Sextets on New Card?
    >Hello - I love your helpful site, as I only discovered American Mah Jongg six months ago. On the new 2015 card, #3 and #4 in Winds - Dragons show two separated pungs, listed as "pung" singular, of "Any Like Odd No." and "Any Like Even No." to make up the hand. These pungs should then be exposed separately, and not as a sextet. But I was wondering why not have us play them as sets of six, and if such a hand has been used in previous years?
    >Thanks, Diane H. in Texas

    Hi, Diane.
    You wonder why the "sextet" is separated, and why the League doesn't make it a whole sextet. I wonder why you wonder that! To me, this isn't a sextet but rather two identical pungs (since the pungs are exposable individually). I cannot explain the League's reasoning; you would have to ask the League. There is plenty of precedent for the two-identical-pungs pattern (this is an old hand making a repeat appearance). I can say that a sextet is much harder to make, and I suppose it's reasonable to assume that this fact influences the League in their decision to use sextets only rarely.
    You also asked if sextet hands have been used in previous years. I can confidently say yes. But going back through previous years' cards to find sextets and report on the findings would be more work than I'm willing to do at this time. If I had a lot of free time on my hands, maybe. But I don't.
    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
    March 31, 2015

    P.S. FAQ 16 has been created, to explain the hands on the 2015 card that cause the most confusion. - Tom


    Column 632, part 2

    >From: Laurel P
    >Sent: Monday, March 30, 2015 2:08 PM
    >Subject: Re: 2015 card post
    >Thank you. Just noticed autocorrect changed "pung" to "pair".

    ... I don't know what to say to that.


    Column 632

    >From: Laurel P
    >Sent: Monday, March 30, 2015 12:58 PM
    >Subject: 2015 card post
    >"This year there are three exposable hands with dragon pungs; one in Consec., and two in 369. The only concealed dragon pung hand is the bottom hand in 2015."
    >I don't see a concealed hand with a dragon pung. There is a concealed hand with a dragon pair in the bottom of "2468" and in "S&P"

    Hi, Laurel. I regard a pung of zeroes as a dragon pung. It's three white dragons (aka "soaps"). A pung of three white dragons is not "instant death," since it could be the hand in Consec. or one of the hands in 369.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 30, 2015


    What's the penalty?

    >From: Vanora
    >Sent: Monday, March 30, 2015 11:28 AM
    >Subject: question
    >Thank you for all of your wonderful info..
    >If a player calls for a tile and places the tile on top of her rack, then places a tile from her hand with it for a pair, but she is not calling for Mah-Jongg what is the penalty??
    >Your book has been of great help to me. I just could not find the answer to my question in it. oops on my part???
    >Know one in a our area played until I used your book to teach by.
    >I had only played off and on over the years.
    >Thank you again.
    >Vanora
    ><=><

    It depends, Vanora. Has she discarded yet? Or has she only made the exposure and not yet finished her turn? If she has discarded, call her dead for making an illegal exposure (see rule 58.b. on page 52 and rule 97.b. on page 62 of my book). If she hasn't finished her turn yet, she can still add another tile to the exposure and make it legal. Read "Frequently Asked Question" 19-AF. You can link to the FAQs above left. In my book, see rule 113 on page 65.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 30, 2015


    Do we have to wait until April 1st to use the new card?

    >From: Diane B
    >Sent: Monday, March 30, 2015 7:32 AM
    >Subject: Effective Date of the New Card?
    >Tom,
    >I love your book and Website! Having been playing only slightly over one year, I continue to be a sponge, rereading your materials over and over.
    >Regarding the NMJL cards, should we wait until April 1 each year to use the new card, or can players begin using the new card once all the group have received them? I live in Arkansas, so we don't have ours yet -- hopefully, today or tomorrow!
    >Regards,
    >Diane B

    Hi, Diane. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-BV. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 30, 2015


    Thanks to this site...

    >From: Jonathan Coveney via PayPal
    >Sent: Monday, March 30, 2015 7:25 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Jonathan Coveney PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Jonathan Coveney. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Jonathan Coveney
    >Message: Tom, thanks for this site. You are more responsive than any of us deserve and have collected a bunch of information that is extremely hard to find anywhere else, especially for less common mah jong variants (at least, less common for an english speaker in america). Yesterday I played a variant of hong kong old style with my girlfriend's father (who is a super old school player of the "can feel the tiles and know what they are" variety) and I held my own -- I even ended the night up! After we played, everyone was hungry for a rematch with me... I know that's thanks to this site, so I decided to pitch in. Thanks again!
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Cool story, Jonathan. And thanks for the donation!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 30, 2015


    Please explain!

    >From: Diane F
    >Sent: Sunday, March 29, 2015 4:12 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: When one player discarded a tile, another player said, "You made me dead!" and continued playing. I said that I thought if you were dead, you couldn't continue playing. She jumped down my throat and told me it is illegal to call yourself dead. She had no exposed tiles. Please explain. Thanks.

    Hi, Diane.
    If it really happened the way you describe it, I can see why you're confused. She calls herself dead, then she tells you she's continuing to play because she's not allowed to do what she did. Well, her facts are correct, but her logic leaves something to be desired. She doesn't have to stop playing unless another player can prove, based on what's visible on the table, that her hand is dead. Read FAQ 19AA, AB, and AC (you can link to the FAQs above left).
    In case you didn't know, women often like to share their frustrations with one another. It's called "kvetching" in Yiddish. So she blurted out that she had gone dead, not out of obedience to game rules but out of frustration and a desire to let the other know. But unless you could see that her hand was dead, she could keep on playing. Most people, in her situation, simply sigh quietly, and maybe shoot daggers with their eyes. I usually maintain a silent poker face... but then, I'm not female.
    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
    March 29, 2015


    Donation

    >From: Jill G via PayPal
    >Sent: Sunday, March 29, 2015 8:43 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Jill G
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Jill G
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Jill G
    >Message: Thanks, Tom, for all your work. ~Jill G
    >Sincerely,PayPal

    Thank you, Jill! I'm getting to work now on this week's column - introducing the 2015 NMJL card.
    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
    March 29, 2015


    Mystery tiles, part 2

    >From: David Slater
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 10:12 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >Hi Mr. Sloper,
    > Thank you for your answer, sadly I did not read down far enough or I would have found the answer.
    > The amount of information is somewhat overwhelming.
    > We struggle to keep the CRAKS and WINDS straight as we are new to Mah-Jongg so I finally scanned my tiles onto a cheat sheet as attached. It may be on line already but I have not found it.
    > Please accept this as a Thank You for the high quality Mah-Jongg web site you maintain. Perhaps it will help some other novice players.
    >later, slater

    Glad you found the information you were seeking, David.
    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
    March 25, 2015


    Is this a real rule, part 2

    >From: "sharonpoodles
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 2:10 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A-follow up question
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I'm sorry I was not clear about the mish/mash The players do this after the compulsory pass. Thanks again Sharon

    Sharon, I have no idea what "the compulsory pass" is. There are three compulsory passes in the Charleston.

  • The first right is compulsory.
  • The first across is compulsory.
  • Blind passing is permitted in the first left (I wouldn't call that "compulsory").
  • Someone might call a halt to the Charleston (so I can't really call the second left "compulsory").
  • The second across is compulsory.
  • Blind passing is permitted in the last right (so, not compulsory).
  • The courtesy pass is definitely not compulsory, since a player can refuse to exchange any tiles with her opposite.

    So, when you say "the compulsory pass," I really don't know what you mean. I assume your "mish-mash" occurs after the courtesy pass.
    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
    March 25, 2015


    Is this a real rule, or is it a table rule?

    >From: Sharon F
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 9:33 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:This is for playing American Mah-jongg.Is there a rule for playing mish-mash. The players after completing the Charleston and compulsory, the players can throw up to 1-2-3- tiles and the tiles are mixed and the players then pick the number of tiles they threw in. Is this a rule for American Mah-Jong,it sounds like a table rule/practice Thank you Sharon

    Hi, Sharon. You wrote:

    after completing the Charleston and compulsory
    I think you're referring to the Courtesy pass. There's nothing compulsory about the Courtesy.

    Is this a rule for American Mah-Jong,it sounds like a table rule/practice
    Yes, of course it's a table rule.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 25, 2015


    MCR and NMJL

    >From: Jonathan Coveney (via Twitter)
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 5:33 AM
    >Subject: Jonathan Coveney (@jco) mentioned you on Twitter!
    >Tom Sloper,
    >You were mentioned in a Tweet!                                 Tom Sloper        
    >Jonathan Coveney
    >@jco        
    >     Follow Follow  
    >@tomsloper what's the relationship between Chinese/american mahjong for you? Does one make you better at the other? Completely unrelated?
    >    12:33 PM - 25 Mar 15
    >                    Reply to @jco    Retweet               Favorite

    Hi Jonathan, you asked:

    what's the relationship between Chinese/american mahjong for you?
    They're both played with mah-jongg tiles, and they're both described in my book.

    Does one make you better at the other?
    There are strategies that apply to both. I vaguely recall sitting at one table and seeing applicability of a strategy I employed at the other.

    Completely unrelated?
    They're both mah-jongg.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 25, 2015


    The other women say not to believe you

    >From: Kathie H
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 5:23 AM
    >Subject: NMJL
    >Tom
    >Thank you for your wonderful website. I have followed your column since I started playing American Mahjongg over a year ago. I play with a group of women at our golf club.
    >We all decided to to away on vacation and have Mahjongg as the centre of activity. In preparation for that I printed off some of the rules of MJ from your website. When it came to using the rules one of the other women said that "they aren't from the NMJL therefore they are not valid". "Only things printed by the NMJL can be a rule".
    >Can I ask you how you compiled all these rules? Are they NMJL "sanctioned" ? Did you possibly complile all the League's bulletins and interpretations in one place? I guess my question is "are they official" in any way that I can use to respond to this women and help our group decipher situations that arise?
    >Thanks
    >Kathie
    >PS Can't wait for the new card - do you have yours yet?

    Hi, Kathie. You wrote:

    one of the other women said that "they aren't from the NMJL therefore they are not valid". "Only things printed by the NMJL can be a rule".
    She's absolutely right. I have repeated NMJL rules on my site and in my book (and have cordial relations with the NMJL leadership), but nothing is a rule because I say so.

    Can I ask you how you compiled all these rules?
    From the printed rulebook, and from the printed yearly bulletins. I only repeat what's already been said by the League. Problem: the League's rulebook doesn't go into a lot of detail, doesn't clarify etiquette vs. rules, and has not been updated in decades. Rule clarifications in the yearly bulletins have never been incorporated in one place... except in my book and here on this website.

    Are they NMJL "sanctioned" ?
    I am not the NMJL, and the League has not "authorized" me to answer questions about their rules (as is stated in the disclaimer atop this board).

    Did you possibly complile all the League's bulletins and interpretations in one place?
    You guessed it.

    "are they official" in any way that I can use to respond to this women and help our group decipher situations that arise?
    Nope. I can't help you. I have no magic answer for those unbelievers. They don't have to believe anything I say, and you can't make them.

    Can't wait for the new card - do you have yours yet?
    No. Usually, two or three of my readers start pelting me with questions about it a day or two before I have it. That always makes for a fun couple of days for me.

    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
    March 24, 2015


    MCR and the US and LA

    >From: Jonathan Coveney (via Twitter)
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 7:35 PM
    >Subject: Jonathan Coveney (@jco) mentioned you on Twitter!
    >Tom Sloper,
    >You were mentioned in a Tweet! Tom Sloper
    >Jonathan Coveney
    >@jco
    > Follow Follow
    >@tomsloper so MCR seems very unpopular in the US. Where have you found high quality games? Or does LA have the rare good scene?
    > 02:35 AM - 25 Mar 15
    >Jonathan Coveney
    >@jco
    > Follow Follow
    >@tomsloper also: feel better!
    > 02:36 AM - 25 Mar 15

    Jonathan, you asked:

    so MCR seems very unpopular in the US.
    I wouldn't say that. There are MCR players in this country. Just not as many as one might wish.

    Where have you found high quality games?
    I'm not sure how to interpret that question. I've played enjoyable games in Europe, Japan, China, Canada, and India - and, of course, many many enjoyable games in the US.

    Or does LA have the rare good scene?
    It's not as rich as it once was. After 9/11, the Japanese mahjong scene here dwindled drastically due to Japanese players returning to live in Japan. Immigrant players bring their stigmatized view of the game with them, so their games are secretive and insular. I'm sure there are a lot of Chinese variants played here, and Filipino, Vietnamese, and the harder-to-find-now Japanese groups. The American game is HUGE here. I'm sure it is in NYC also.

    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
    March 24, 2015


    Nine Gates and Pure Straight, part 3

    >From: Elizabeth U
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 3:35 PM
    >Subject: Nine gates--9 completed hands
    >
    >Hi Tom,
    >Regarding the question about Nine Gates: I wrote out the nine possible completed hands (4 sets and one pair) for myself to see when you'd get the straight and to see how the pair, chows and pungs change depending on the 14th tile drawn. If the 14th tile is a 2,5, or 8, those numbers will form your pairs and you'll have two terminal pungs because the waiting hand holds three ones and three nines. I guess there would be some short straights in those hands too. You don't 'lock in' terminal pungs during play so you're right about changing your description of the hand in your book. Bold numbers represent the 14 tile. It looks beautiful but I've never seen anyone do it. I'm sure that math geniuses will see something mystical in this.
    >Best wishes from Warsaw, Poland
    >Elizabeth

    Very nice, Elizabeth. I'm sure math geniuses see a lot of mysticism in a lot of places. This hand in particular has a lot of the beauty of math in it.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 24, 2015


    Dead links you should fix or remove

    >From: P S
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 12:53 PM
    >Subject: dead links
    >Just thought you'd like to know of dead links under "I'm Just Starting".
    >Thanks for all you do.
    >There's a Chinese company, AoToMo, that offers automatic tables - too bad I can't read Chinese. http://www.aotomo.com/mjwh/index.html andwww.chinamj.com.cn .
    >パメラ ソサ
    >Pamela

    Hi, パメラ. You wrote that the dead links are located...

    ...under "I'm Just Starting".
    I have no idea where that is! I guess I'll have to Google it.... Okay, I Googled that, and apparently I wrote the phrase "I'm Just Starting" in a whole buncha places on my website. So let me Google the link itself... okay, found that in FAQ 4b.
    Aotomo.com is still a good link (just by itself) but you're right, chinamj.com is dead. Okay. Links fixed, thanks to you!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 24, 2015


    Nine Gates and Pure Straight, part 2

    >From: Jonathan Coveney (via Twitter)
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 10:07 AM
    >Subject: Jonathan Coveney (@jco) mentioned you on Twitter!
    >Tom Sloper,
    >You were mentioned in a Tweet! Tom Sloper
    >@tomsloper thank you so much! FWIW I was using the updated rules and errata you linked, I just didn't realize they were no longer called+ - Mar 24
    >Jonathan Coveney
    >@jco
    > Follow Follow
    >@tomsloper "the green book." I thought the green book just meant the latest edition of the rules
    > 05:07 PM - 24 Mar 15
    > Reply to @jco Retweet Favorite
    >@tomsloper lastly, what's your preferred medium for questions? Email it seems?
    > 05:07 PM - 24 Mar 15
    > Reply to @jco Retweet Favorite

    >From: Jonathan Coveney
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 3:28 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I was just wondering: what is the highest mah jong hand possible? My sense is something like quadruple concealed kong of all winds, but I'm not sure!
    >Love the site :)

    Hi, Jonathan. You wrote:

    I thought the green book just meant the latest edition of the rules
    You were not wrong. My apologies for jumping to an assumption. I have a physical copy of the green book from 2006, and since the update is available as a downloadable PDF, I wasn't thinking of the updated version as having a cover at all (much less a green one). But looking at http://www.mindmahjong.com/info/eshowinfo.asp?id=931, I see that the new PDF still sports the same green cover.

    In my mind, "the green book" referred to the 2006 edition, and the revised version "ought" to be referred to as "the 2014 update." But I was wrong; I misspoke. ...I do think it's important, though, to make certain that one is referring to green books by their publish or release date, since there have certainly been changes since the 2006 printing.

    I noticed on that web page that in addition to the 2014 edition of MCR there is also a link labeled "New edition is now available!" and the download has a different title. The two downloads are:
    ● 20140411MCREnglish.pdf
    ● 20141120CEJ.pdf
    The first one is English-only, and is dated April 11, 2014. The second one is CEJ (Chinese, English, Japanese) and is dated November 20, 2014. So really, the most definitive edition would be the CEJ. It's downloadable by clicking the banner image atop the page where it says "New edition is now available!"

    what's your preferred medium for questions? Email it seems?
    I was a little surprised at getting a question via Twitter at first, but hey - any method that gets a question to me is fine. If a question comes via Twitter, then I have an excuse to post a link to my bulletin board on Twitter, so that's kind of a plus.

    what is the highest mah jong hand possible? My sense is something like quadruple concealed kong of all winds, but I'm not sure!
    I don't know offhand - I suppose so. I'm still recovering from a cold that kept me coughing and sleepless throughout what was supposed to be a wonderfully productive Spring Break week - I'm still groggy, and my work is still backlogged. I don't have time to try to figure this one out. One of the mahjong illuminati may have already figured this out and posted something about it on rec.games.mahjong 8 years ago or so. Or maybe Elizabeth U (who has now sent in a spectacular analysis of Nine Gates pursuant to your questions - see above) has already figured this out. You tell me how much Big Four Winds made of four concealed kongs (and a pair of dragons) would be scored. My poor brain can't deal with it right 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
    March 24, 2015


    Nine Gates and Pure Straight

    >From: Jonathan Coveney (via Twitter)
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 7:33 AM
    >Subject: Jonathan Coveney (@jco) mentioned you on Twitter!
    >Tom Sloper,
    >You were mentioned in a Tweet! Tom Sloper
    >Jonathan Coveney
    >@jco
    > Follow Follow
    >@tomsloper read the green book and your errata... How can nine gates also be a pure straight? Isn't the pure straight implied by nine gates? - 02:25 PM - 24 Mar 15
    >Jonathan Coveney
    >@jco
    > Follow Follow
    >@tomsloper (I know this hand is incredibly rare I'm more just trying to figure out the concept behind the pure straight being allowed on it)
    > 02:33 PM - 24 Mar 15
    > Reply to @jco Retweet Favorite

    Hi, Jonathan.
    Wow, the green book and my errata. That was a long time ago (before my book was released). I had to do some involved digging to locate that errata file you mentioned. But I found it. Why still be using out-of-date sources like the green book when newer sources of information are available? The official rules were updated in 2014, and can be downloaded at http://www.mindmahjong.com/info/eshowinfo.asp?id=931. (Don't include the dot after =931 in that address - that's just a period, ending my sentence.)

    How can nine gates also be a pure straight?
    First, let's take a look at what you're citing:

      Appendix 1 (Fan 4, P. 34) Nine Gates. The five different ways of making Nine Gates (1 or 9, 2 or 8, 3 or 7, 4 or 6, 5) permit the addition of some fan but not others. The example on p.34 illustrates the case of winning Nine Gates on 1 or 9, and does explicitly permit addition of both Pure Straight and Tile Hog (either of which makes the other inevitable).

    And, for the sake of fuller comprehension, let's see the definitions of Nine Gates and Pure Straight from my book:

      4. Nine Gates 88 points

      Tiles of one suit only, with concealed pungs of both terminals (ones and nines) and one of each simple, and (as the final winning tile) a duplicate of any tile in the hand. Prior to obtaining the final tile, the hand was concealed, waiting for any tile in the suit to win (a nine-way wait). May not be combined with Full Flush (implied), Concealed, Edge Wait, Closed Wait, Single Wait, or Pung of Terminals or Honors. If self-picked, Fully Concealed may be added.

      28. Pure Straight 16 points

      One through nine in one suit (three chows, end to end).

    So, to answer your question, "How can nine gates also be a pure straight?" - As noted, it's only possible if the fourteenth tile is a 1 or 9. The green book shows:

    Now, imagine that the "pung of ones" is a pair - and the third one makes a chow with its neighbors, 2 and 3. Then you have a 456 chow, a 789 chow, and a pung of nines. You can see that it's possible to include a pure straight in this, if the last tile is a terminal. By reminding me of this, you show me that my book's definition of Nine Gates is flawed - I mustn't require that the terminals be "concealed pungs." Instead, I must specify "three ones and three nines" in my definition, to permit the flexibility needed in order to accommodate Pure Straight. And my illustration above is wrong - I should not include space between ones and two, or between eight and nines.

    Isn't the pure straight implied by nine gates?
    Only if Pure Straight is inevitable when making Nine Gates. If the last taken tile is not a terminal, Pure Straight is not made.

    I'm modifying the errata for my book, and I'm adding this Q&A to FAQ 22.
    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
    March 24, 2015


    Mystery tiles

    >From: David S
    >Sent: Monday, March 23, 2015 8:33 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:?
    > What are the 4 tiles left and 4 tiles right of the blank tiles in the attached photo.
    > A Mahjong newbe I purchased a Mahjong set in Singapore a few months ago. As per the attached photo there the "usual" 144 tile plus the box of 20 "extra" tiles. I understand the 4 jokers, the 4 Singapore/Malaysa cat rat cockerell centipede, and the 4 Blank spares. I can find no description of the 4 tiles with red Chinese characters to the left of the blank tiles. I can find no description of the 4 tiles with red Chinese characters to the right of the blank tiles, however they do appear listed under Malaysian/Singapore tiles at www.Aotomo.com
    > My guess is the 4 right side tiles represent an arrow being released from a bow (Green Dragon) versus the arrow hitting dead center (Red Dragon). I have not a clue about the 4 tiles left of the blank tiles.
    >Thanks for your help
    >DaveS

    Hi, Dave.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 7-E, "the mystery tiles FAQ." You can link to the FAQs above left. Here's a hint: when you have the page open, use Control-F and type "malay" to search the FAQ and go right to the right place - all the answers you seek are right there.
    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
    March 23, 2015


    Struggling with Charleston strategy, part 4

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Monday, March 23, 2015 5:37 AM
    >Subject: charleston strategy
    >Your 2 columns on Charleston strategy are extremely helpful. Now I can organize my thoughts better when deciding on a hand. Thanks so much!!
    >Linda


    Struggling with Charleston strategy, part 3

    Special twin columns this week, to fully explain the Four Step strategy. New card coming real soon, so stay tuned!
    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
    March 22, 2015


    How to find local MCR games, part 2

    >https://twitter.com/i/notifications
    >Jonathan Coveney ?@jco 2m2 minutes ago
    >@tomsloper thank you. It's hard to know where to look for info given all the variants, but your site is great!

    Hi, Jonathan. The "how to find players" info is non-variant-specific. A LOT of the info on this site is not specific to any variant. Hope you find players!
    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
    March 21, 2015


    How to find local MCR games?

    >https://twitter.com/i/notifications
    >Jonathan Coveney ?@jco 1m1 minute ago
    >@tomsloper reading your book! Any suggestions for how to find local MCR games in NYC?

    Hi, Jonathan.
    I'm delighted that you're reading my book. Perhaps you are unaware of the broad range of resources available on my website. From here, scroll up and look left for the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). You want FAQ 15. No guarantees that you will find exactly what you're looking for -- good luck!
    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
    March 21, 2015


    Struggling with Charleston strategy, part 2

    >From: Liz H
    >Sent: Friday, March 20, 2015 3:42 AM
    >Subject: Would love more detail
    >I've read, studied and re-read all of your posts about WWYP, and continue to be intrigued by your strategy concerning:
    >a. Pairs
    >b. Friends
    >c. High vs. low
    >d. Odd vs. even
    >Would you perhaps go into a more detailed explanation of this strategy. I "get it" but it would really help me if you explained each one in more detail.
    >Bought your book and love it, but not finding explanation of this topic in there.
    >Thanks!!
    >Liz H

    Hi, Liz.
    As I explained to you on Friday the 13th, there's nothing about the Four-Step strategy in my book because I wrote the book seven years before I came up with the Four-Step strategy.
    I'm writing a column for this Sunday that describes the strategy in detail.
    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
    The First Day of Spring, 2015


    Can multiple players call someone dead?

    >From: bklynirene
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 9:34 PM
    >Subject: Dead Hand Bonanza
    >Hi Tom:
    > I think I have a question that you probably have never been asked before:
    > Alice has two exposures on her rack. Betty looks at Alice's exposures and says,"I think you are dead." Alice replies, "I am not dead and you know Betty that at the end of the game, when I show you that I am not dead, you owe me a quarter." Betty now says , "Yes, I know that and if you are dead, you owe me a quarter." Now the other two ladies, Connie and Donna, convinced that Betty is right both state individually, "You know Alice I think you are dead, also." So now, three players are calling Alice dead thinking that they all can cash in on this Quarter Bonanza. So, Tom, the question is, can there be more than one player making a "death challenge" in a game? As it turned out, it was a wall game and Alice was not dead after all. All three of these "good" players failed to recognize Alice's two exposures as the kongs in consecutive run #3. Oh -- There is more -- since it was obvious to Alice that the three players expected to be paid for calling her dead, she turned the (MJ!) tables on them and asked for a quarter from each of them because they were wrong. How do you think they responded???
    >Thank you for prompt and always wise response.
    >Irene

    Hi, Irene. I don't see why a player can't be called dead by more than one player, and expect to pay or be paid the same as the original challenger. I've never seen the League issue a ruling on it.
    As for your closing question, I'll bite. They refused to pay, because it was a wall game (a bogus reason, if her hand was provably not dead).
    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
    March 17, 2015


    Zero is a number, right? So...

    >From: "caokie
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 5:44 PM
    >Subject: White dragon as "0"
    >NMJL 14
    >I have 2 questions
    >1. Quints 3rd hand FFFF NNNNN 11111 used 4 white dragons and 1 joker for 5(0's) the card says (any number in any suit.)
    >2. Then in consecutive runs, can any hand that says any consecutive numbers, use the white dragons as the number 0 such has hand #2, 000 1111 222 3333 lets say 0's and ones will be called bams, and 2's & 3's are craks can the whites dragons be used as 0 (the number) in this scenario or in hand 5 could you use say FFFF JJ00 1111 DD could you have the 2white dragons be 0's with 2 jokers and the other 2 be white dragons then the ones would be 1 dots. or have FFFF JJ00 1111 DD and have the ones be craks, and the 2 dragons be red since the white dragons as 0's take the suit they are played with I am rambling on, but I think you get my drift. Thanks, Marsha from Santa Barbara
    >Thanks, I couldn't find anything in the book that discussed this.

    Hi, Marsha. I don't know which book you looked in. This question is not answered in my book, because this question had never occurred to me when I wrote it, and I don't recall reading it in Elaine Sandberg's first book. And it's not in the official rulebook, either. But it is in Frequently Asked Question 19. Specifically, it's FAQ 19-BH. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 17, 2015


    Orderly discards or haphazard discards?

    >From: Elaine C
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 6:40 AM
    >Subject: A Mah Jongg Question
    >I've search your FAQ's and can't find this mentioned. Forgive me if I missed it.
    >At today's game, (American NMJL) we were discussing where to play computer interactive MJ. I said that in that venue the discarded tiles are lined up in front of the player discarding so you can see which tiles each player discarded. Another player said that at a Senior Center in another part of our town, they do the same thing, when they table play!
    >I think this would very much change the dynamics of the game. Since I am the one always boasting of your prowess I was elected to find out if there is a rule covering how discards are to be discarded!
    >Thanks for any light you can shine on this.
    >Elaine C, Melbourne Florida (32901) 3/17/15.

    Hi, Elaine.
    I know of two mah-jongg variants in which discards are placed in an orderly fashion, enabling anyone to read what has happened throughout the progress of the current hand. Those are Japanese mah-jongg and Chinese competition rules.
    While the rules are silent on this, it's standard in American mah-jongg to place the tiles haphazardly. Not all computer games arrange American discards in an orderly fashion.
    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
    March 2, 2015


    You misunderstood my question

    >From: Donna C
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 4:12 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Sent from my iPad Tom I wasn't talking about telling what tiles a player is personally waiting for.I am talking about an opponent telling the table what another is waiting for.

    That isn't common, either, Donna. Do it once, and you will incur the enmity of the player you blabbed on. She, or someone else, might well scold you. Do it twice, and you may get booted from the game. Blabbermouthing what tile another player needs leads to disharmony. Harmony is much better than disharmony.
    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
    March 17, 2015


    Is it common to tell your opponents what tile you need?

    >From: Donna C
    >Sent: Monday, March 16, 2015 3:28 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Is it common to announce what tiles a player is waiting for to other players that haven't figured it out?

    No, Donna. It's decidedly UNcommon. Only a player who never wants to win would think that was a good idea. Imagine poker players telling one another what cards they're holding. What a strange game that would be!
    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
    March 16, 2015


    Donation

    >From: Helen T via PayPal
    >Sent: Monday, March 16, 2015 9:37 AM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    >PayPal
    >You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $20.00 USD from Helen T
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $20.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you very much, Helen!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    March 16, 2015


    But you said, part 2

    >From: Susan M
    >Sent: Friday, March 13, 2015 11:05 PM
    >Subject: RE: Apparent MJ card conflict
    >Tom,
    >Thanks very much for your message and answers to my questions. I don’t know if one can reply to your e-mail but I will try.
    >I think I wasn’t clear as to why I said I thought the AMJA card would cause confusion – mainly the confusion would be inadvertently ordering the “wrong” card. This is what happened to a group of newer players who recently started to play at the facility in which a bunch of us have played for awhile: They were rather new to Mah Jongg and knew we played American Maj Jongg but were not familiar with Mah Jongg organizations, e.g. NMJL and AMJA, and had not ordered cards before. Apparently they looked up American Mah Jongg, which probably alphabetically led them to the AMJA site. Thinking that was the relevant site, a member of the group called up and ordered cards. Unfortunately, if a new player quickly enters terms like American Maj Jongg for the sole purpose of ordering cards, this may happen due to the alphabetical situation; that’s what I meant by confusion – new players may not know they are NMJL players and, as you noted, most players have never heard of the AMJA but they know they play American Mah Jongg.
    >
    >You made the card distinction very clear on 7i but, being relatively new to the game, they were not aware of your website or, as noted above, the organizations involved with Mah Jongg. By the way, before I e-mailed you I looked at 7i and saw the Marvelous card and also the info re: Kards.
    >
    >I’m sure we won’t have any more questions about the AMJA rules because we don’t like the card; the people who ordered it in error are ordering new cards from NMJL. The rest of us are awaiting our NMJL cards as usual (and hoping it includes NEWS – that’s not a shout).
    >Once again, thanks for your response and your website; it’s really great!
    >Susan M

    Hi, Susan.
    I think this confusion is unlikely to be rampant. In order for someone to get confused that way, (1) she would have to be fairly new to the game; (2) she would have to know that what she needs is an American mah-jongg card, (3) she would have to not already have a card to look at (and be unable to look at one before Googling).
    That third condition is a necessary one for this confusion to occur, and I think it greatly reduces the likelihood of the confusion occurring.
    Most people don't order a card until they've begun some instruction about the game, and most teachers of the game provide the first card, or at the very least let students examine the card to get the web address. Something different happened to your friends. I'm sure something different happens now and then. But I don't think there needs to be concern about rampant confusion.
    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
    Pi Day: 3/14/15


    But you said the AMJA card uses NMJL rules...?

    >From: Susan M
    >Sent: Friday, March 13, 2015 5:45 PM
    >Subject: Apparent MJ card conflict
    >Tom,
    >I don’t think you’ve answered this because I saw where you said that the American Mah Jongg Association uses the same rules for play with their card as the National Mah Jongg League. Today at MJ some players had the 2015 AMJA card which they ordered by mistake thinking it would be the card from the National Mah Jongg League which we use (2014 at present because it is not yet April 1).
    >The 2015 American Mah Jongg Assoc. card appears not to conform to NMJL rules because a quick look at the card indicates that a couple combinations include joker doubleton’s and the rules on the card say one can pick up a discarded joker if it is the first tile discarded, which we find hard to believe as well as understand. I’m assuming this departure from National Mah Jongg rules is new. It’s going to cause a lot of confusion because all players I have met use NMJL rules. Am I misunderstanding something here? I hope you have not answered this question; I looked at the FAQs and did not see this information. I apologize if you’ve already answered this question.
    >I love your website,
    >Susan M

    Hi, Susan. You wrote:

    I saw where you said that the American Mah Jongg Association uses the same rules for play with their card as the National Mah Jongg League.
    With some small exceptions - hopefully, most of the exceptions are stated on the AMJA card. Based on your email, I've just made a modification to FAQ 7i.

    some players had the 2015 AMJA card which they ordered by mistake
    I hope I made the distinction clear in FAQ 7i.

    a quick look at the card indicates that a couple combinations include joker doubleton’s
    I discussed that one with Lorraine VW on February 17, below.

    and the rules on the card say one can pick up a discarded joker if it is the first tile discarded
    A rule the AMJA decided to put on their card - clearly, that is different from the NMJL rule.

    which we find hard to believe
    If you play with the AMJA card, you can suspend your disbelief. Don't suspend it with the NMJL card, though.

    as well as understand.
    If you have any questions about AMJA rules, you can contact the AMJA.

    I’m assuming this departure from National Mah Jongg rules is new.
    Are you asking what year the AMJA added that to their card? I don't have the 2015 AMJA card in my collection, and I don't know offhand if I have their 2014 card either.

    It’s going to cause a lot of confusion because all players I have met use NMJL rules.
    I don't see how it could cause widespread confusion. Most NMJL players never heard of the AMJA or have never purchased an AMJA card.

    I looked at the FAQs and did not see this information.
    I never saw it necessary to create a set of FAQs about the AMJA card. Are you aware also of the Marvelous Mah Jongg card?

    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 13th, March, 2015


    Struggling with Charleston strategy

    >From: Liz H
    >Sent: Friday, March 13, 2015 4:04 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Thanks for all the great info on your site. I've ordered your book and can't wait to read it.
    >One question: I'm struggling with the strategy of which tiles to pass at the start of the game. I have been studying the WWYP entries but keep coming upon the list of pairs, friends, lows etc. wondering if you address this strategy in the book, and explain further how to decide early on what to keep and pass, or, if it is in one if your entries that I missed?
    >Thanks much!
    >Liz H

    Hi, Liz. Your questions:

    I've ordered your book
    Cool! \(^_^)/

    I'm struggling with the strategy of which tiles to pass
    Yes, that's every beginner's first hurdle. The most common mistake is to look at the 50+ hands on the card and burn brain cells trying to pick one. That's the wrong way to go.

    I have been studying the WWYP entries but keep coming upon the list of pairs, friends, lows etc. wondering if you address this strategy in the book
    The "four steps" is a new approach that I first described in column 624. My book was released in 2007.

    and explain further how to decide early on what to keep and pass
    In the book I stress that it's a matter of elimination. Don't burn your brain cells looking for "the perfect hand" - there hardly ever is one! Instead, look for a family, and eliminate tiles that don't fit. After you've been playing for a while, you'll get better at spotting hands and things. The American game is the hardest one to learn, so don't beat yourself up. Just realize that you've got a steep learning curve ahead of you. You have to "pay tuition" for a while - just be patient. You'll get there.

    or, if it is in one if your entries that I missed?
    Because the American card changes every year, most people don't get usefulness out of past years' columns (and don't check them for perennially applicable topics). People who start playing in 2015 are not likely to have a 2012 card, for instance. I guess I have to repeat basic strategy advice every year. Anyway, take heart - since a new card is coming in a couple weeks, I'll start a new series with the new card. The big challenge for me this year is my extra-heavy work load this college semester. I hope my readers can cut me a little slack in that regard.

    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 13th, March, 2015


    Quints strategy

    >From: Beth P
    >Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2015 7:44 PM
    >Subject: Quints Section
    >Hello Tom,
    >Thank you for your helpful site and book. I have played Mah Jongg for one year now and love the game, my 7 friends I play with and you…your helpful weekly strategy column and the bulletin board. I have made hands in every section on the NMJL card, even concealed and a pairs and singles hand but never the quints section. Would you give me some strategy and pointers in what to look for when first getting tiles that may point to a quints hand. Or maybe write about that in your weekly column. Looking forward to the new 2015 card.Thanks. Beth PS Our fourth wall when only three play is called “Matilda”

    Hi, Beth.
    Go for a Quints hand when you have a lot of jokers, and some tiles that fit one of the Quint hands. For example, with the 2014 card, if you had FF35888WWGJJJ, naturally you'd want to go for Quints #3. Be wary of hands that need pairs, though. For example, the top hand. If you have 333444555JJJER, do not go for Quints #1 (you don't have the 2s). With those tiles, it'd be better to go for Consec. #7.
    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 13th, March, 2015


    What's it worth, how old is it, what's it made of, and tell me anything else you can, too

    >From: Christopher T
    >Sent: Monday, March 9, 2015 7:46 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hello Tom, just found your site and hopefully you can be of some help. I have a Mahjongg that was given to me by my father. I wanted to see if you can help me the best you can to obtain a value for the set, but want to know if possible as much about it as possible. For example, Era, box material, piece's materials, what may be missing, what can be extra, as much information you may know to the best of your knowledge. Thank you, hope to hear from you soon.

    Hi, Christopher. You want to know:

    a value for the set,
    Sure. Please read Frequently Asked Question 7-H. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    Era,
    Read FAQ 7-G.

    piece's materials,
    Read FAQ 7-C.

    what may be missing
    Read FAQ 7-B. And while you're at it, read FAQ 7-A and FAQ 7-D and FAQ 7-E.

    as much information you may know to the best of your knowledge.
    Read FAQ 7-P. And maybe you'd like to read some of the other FAQs too. I can probably help you after you've read the FAQs and send me the information and pictures I need.

    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
    March 9, 2015


    Do you know how other people feel?

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Monday, March 9, 2015 3:28 PM
    >Subject: winds
    >Hi Tom,
    >Our MJ group rarely plays the "winds" hands because the exposures readily reveal which 2 or 3 hands are being played. Do you know if other players feel this way? We'd like your opinion. Looking forward to the new card!
    >Thanks, Linda

    Hi, Linda. You wrote:

    Do you know if other players feel this way?
    No. I don't. I only know that it's obvious to anyone that a kong of E or W readily reveals which family the player is playing.

    Looking forward to the new card!
    You just made me realize that's coming in three weeks!

    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
    March 9, 2015


    Five players

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Sunday, March 8, 2015 6:14 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Playing American Mah Jongg according to NMJL rules with 5 players. Person who was east after everyone has a turn relinquishes her seat to player sitting out. 1. About how long does an average game last- barring no extraneous chit chat?; 2. About how long will each player sit out during the course of 3 hours based on answer to first question? 3. Do players end up sitting out longer when playing with 5 as opposed to playing with 9? Thanks for figuring out answers to my questions. I have some answers in mind but need a professional’s imput. Lynn P.

    Hi, Lynn.
    Ten to fifteen minutes. Your mileage may vary.
    You could do the math yourself. Let's say an average of five hands per hour, sitting out one hand per hour for about 12 minutes per hour = 36 minutes over 3 hours. I don't see how this "statistic" is useful for anything.
    I don't understand the question. Playing with 9, you could do 3 tables of 3 so nobody sits out. Or two tables of 4, and the sitter-outer simply jumps in on whatever seat opens up first, which means answer #2 no longer applies.
    May the tiles be with you. And please never ask me to do math for you again. All you needed from me was #1, and you could have figured even that out yourself by simply keeping count over a 3-hour play session.
    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
    March 8, 2015


    I am going through column withdrawal

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Sunday, March 8, 2015 7:40 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I got a chuckle out of Beth K's question about the Alice wall. We play 3 handed MJ when we don't have a 4th. The girls like to use the 4th place as if a person were there only during the Charleston (we know that the rules state there is no Charleston when 3 play but they like to do it anyway). I have started calling this "person" Joe, maybe Beth's group calls theirs "Alice".
    >PS: I am going through strategy column withdrawal!
    >Bee

    Hi, Bee.
    A new column is up this morning!
    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
    March 8, 2015


    She says I have to keep my hands off her rack! Is that really a rule?

    >From: Libby Q
    >Sent: Saturday, March 7, 2015 10:17 PM
    >Subject: Redeeming a joker
    >Hi~
    >I recently played with new group & went to redeem a joker and was scolded for touching another players tiles on their rack... I've been playing for over 30 years & never heard this was a rule. So, my question is, is it ok to redeem a joker on my own, or do I need to hand my joker to the player & ask permission to redeem it?
    >Thanks,
    >LibbyQ

    Funny thing, Libby. Several others have asked me lately about this:

  • Louise D, March 3, "Frequently Asked Questions, part 3"
  • Louise D, January 8, "Is this a rule? (Putting a tile on another player's rack)
  • andi c, September 19, "She says I have to keep my hands off her rack! Is that really a rule??"

    So I've just decided that this is now officially a Frequently Asked Question. So I'm adding this to FAQ 19. But since I haven't done that yet, here's the answer:

    There's no written rule against touching someone else's rack (to redeem a joker, or to give her a discard she called for, or for any other purpose). There's also no written rule against standing on your head and loudly singing Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" while playing, but common sense and common courtesy must come into play when something is not prohibited by a written rule. Some people play casually and for fun - but some people play the game very competitively, and are highly protective of their tiles. Just accept that it is a bad idea to touch another player's rack. If you were playing cards, you wouldn't touch a card being held in another player's fingers - think of the rack as the same thing.

    The most polite way of redeeming a joker is to hold your tile in the palm of your hand, extend it to the player with the joker, and ask her for the joker.

    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
    March 8, 2015


    Donation

    >From: carole d
    >Sent: Friday, March 6, 2015 10:47 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from carole d
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$25.00 USD from carole d. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you very much, Carole!
    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
    March 8, 2015


    MCR vs. Western

    >From: Elizabeth U
    >Sent: Saturday, March 7, 2015 11:48 AM
    >Subject: Comment on Helen B's question from March 6
    >Hi Tom,
    >After reading Helen B's question and your answer, I want to make a general comment regarding the game.
    >I learned to play mahjong almost 25 years ago when I moved from the USA to Europe. A host of high-brow ambassadors' wives taught the 'commoners' (like me) the British/Western version of mahjong although they never called it that (maybe they didn't know its name). Over the years, I collected many books on mahjong (including one bible, The Red Dragon and West Wind) and compared the many variations, most of which include the same or similar 14 tile hands. Basically, if you can play one version, you can, with some mental adjustments, play them all though, I admit, the American game is in a niche by itself.
    >
    > A few years ago, I convinced my mahjong group to try the MCR version and we have never looked back! (sorry, Tom, I had to shout.) Although we have some table rules and don't follow the MCR to the letter, we can't imagine ever again playing the highly restrictive British/Western game (Wright Patterson falls into this version too). The MCR game includes most of the hands we already knew but without the paralyzing 'concealment' factor that, frankly, makes most of the British/Western hands nearly impossible to achieve and that leads to repetitively playing 6-7 unconcealed patterns out of a possible 60-70 defined hands (ex. Up you go: purity 2 44 666 8888 EWSN --Try to draw those with one pung allowed). A pure, concealed run of 1-9 achieved by 'luck of the draw'? Four concealed mixed pungs achieved by 'luck of the draw'? What are the odds of collecting such hands? (I assume that Helen in Australia isn't exchanging tiles before actually starting play. In some versions there is a lot of swapping tiles before play begins so it may be possible to put together 75% of a 'concealed' hand before finally starting to draw from the wall and hoping to draw the remaining tiles!)
    >
    >In the MCR game, with the exception of a few classic hands (ex. Thirteen Orphans) or pair hands, the player can choose to use a discard, doesn't usually (except from a strategy standpoint) ruin her hand by making a set with a discard, and, in the final count, is rewarded (with higher scores) for concealment, for purity and for difficulty. I think that the team that put together the Chinese MCR did a heck of a great job! (Tom, where you part of that group of geniuses?)
    >
    > In my opinion, the MCR game offers much more versatility, balances individual strategy with chance, stimulates strategic thinking, and allows for change of hands even late in the game.
    >So, Helen B. from Australia, I suggest reading Tom's explanation of the Mahjong Competition Rules and looking at the official page of the Chinese World Mahjong Organization and giving that version a try. You may find yourself in mahjong heaven.
    >Thank you, Tom, for your website!
    >Elizabeth U. in Warsaw, Poland

    >From: Elizabeth U
    >Sent: Saturday, March 7, 2015 11:53 AM
    >Subject: RE: Comment on Helen B's question from March 6
    >Tom,
    >I meant, 'were you part of the team of geniuses' not 'where'.
    >I should have proofread more carefully.
    >Elizabeth Urban in Warsaw, Poland.
    >ps Are you going to revise and reissue your book anytime soon?
    >pps Any plans to visit Poland?

    Hi, Elizabeth. To respond to your points:

    ambassadors' wives taught the 'commoners' (like me) the British/Western version of mahjong although they never called it that (maybe they didn't know its name).
    I don't know why it is that whenever anyone creates a variant, they don't give it an identifiable name. People who write books, one must imagine, simply learn the local variant and then say "here's how to play mah-jongg." I roll my eyes but can do little else.

    I convinced my mahjong group to try the MCR version and we have never looked back! (sorry, Tom, I had to shout.)
    Sorry, I had to reduce it to lower case.

    we can't imagine ever again playing the highly restrictive British/Western game (Wright Patterson falls into this version too).
    While Wright-Pat rules are related to Western, the practices are sufficiently different to recognize W-P as a separate variant.

    I think that the team that put together the Chinese MCR did a heck of a great job! (Tom, were you part of that group of geniuses?)
    No. I was involved in localizing the poorly translated rules (rewriting the translation, in other words).

    In my opinion, the MCR game offers much more versatility, balances individual strategy with chance, stimulates strategic thinking, and allows for change of hands even late in the game.
    I suppose that's one reason why MCR's popularity still hangs on in Europe. Back in the nineties, European players tried a number of variants, and in the early 2000s settled on Japanese (riichi) and MCR as the two top styles of play.

    Are you going to revise and reissue your book anytime soon?
    I have not approached Collins to suggest it - I don't know if they'd be keen to do it. Anyone can download the errata from this site (by simply clicking any link where I advertise my book).

    Any plans to visit Poland?
    I'm still paying off all my mah-jongg travels in the mid-2000s!

    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
    March 7, 2015


    Please clarify "Alice the dummy wall"

    >From: Beth K
    >Sent: Saturday, March 7, 2015 6:53 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Can you please clarify "Alice" the dummy wall in American Mahjong?

    I can't, Beth. There is no such thing! Read Frequently Asked Question 14 and, while you're at it, read FAQ 13-A and FAQ 19-CD. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 7, 2015


    A 1-9 run is the same as 3 chows, right?

    >From: Helen B
    >Sent: Friday, March 6, 2015 9:00 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >In the Australian game (which is based on what is known as the Western game)
    >we have a few Exposed hands which are made up of Runs e.g. run 1-9 or run
    >1-7 or 2-8 etc. with a specified combination of winds and / or dragons to
    >make up the 14 tiles required to complete the hand.
    >These Runs are, in effect, made up of multiple chows - a run of 1-9 becomes
    >3 chows.
    >These hands are Exposed so in theory it would appear that the run may
    >include a melded chow.
    >I have been unable to find a ruling as to whether or not one may include a
    >melded chow in such a run when the hand is Exposed.
    >I would appreciate receiving your advice on this matter.
    >Regards,
    >Helen B

    G'day, Helen.
    It would have been a lot less work for me if you would have named those hands. I had to dig through two books to find out that there are exactly four such hands. The authorities on Western mah-jongg in Australia are Thompson & Maloney. At first I checked Improve Your Mah Jong and found two of the hands, but when I went to The Mah Jong Player's Companion (TMJPC), I found all four on page 56.

  • Red Lantern
  • Dragon's Tail
  • Dragon's Teeth
  • Dragon's Gates

    You wrote:

    These hands are Exposed so in theory it would appear that the run may
    >include a melded chow.
    Au contraire. (That's Australian for nyet.) Each of those hands contains pungs. Those hands are marked in TMJPC with red dots. Looking at the front of the book, page 4, one sees that the red dots mean that the pungs may be exposed.

    These Runs are, in effect, made up of multiple chows - a run of 1-9 becomes
    >3 chows.
    Appearances can be deceiving. I am reminded of the Japanese hand, dai sharin, pairs of twos through eights (seven sequential pairs).

    I remember someone on the mahjong newsgroup (so you know that had to be a long time ago!) claiming that because this could be re-arranged as two identical chows (iipeikou), and two other identical chows, and a pair, and that he should be able to claim this as both a chow hand and a pairs hand. I told him no - he couldn't have his cake and eat it, too.
    ...Okay, so that's sorta, but not quite, like what you want to do. Anyway...

    I have been unable to find a ruling as to whether or not one may include a
    >melded chow in such a run when the hand is Exposed.
    That's because a run is not a set of chows - it's a sequence of single tiles. More precisely: a 1-9 run is not 3 chows; it's a 1-9 run. If a run could be broken down into chows, the hand would be much easier to make, and its value would have to be reduced commensurately (that's Australian for "accordingly").

    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
    March 7, 2015


    Is it possible to subscribe so I get emails?

    >From: Liz H
    >Sent: Friday, March 6, 2015 4:22 AM
    >Subject: Can I subscribe?
    >Is it possible to subscribe to your column, so that I would be notified by email on your posts, or must I manually check your site every week? I am loving your content, new to the game and voracious for good information. Thank you!!!
    >Liz H

    Hi, Liz.
    I'm afraid that's a service I can't offer. But I promise I'll write a column this weekend.
    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
    March 6, 2015


    Frequently-asked question 19-L

    >From: Alan G
    >Sent: Thursday, March 5, 2015 8:47 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Can a player who has 2 or 3 jokers pick up the needed tile to complete the pong or kong? The tile in question is not in her hand only the jokers.

    Welcome to my website, Alan. This question has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-L. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 5, 2015


    Can she call me dead?

    >From: "Lovelman
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 4, 2015 4:04 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have an exposed, made hand. I need one soap. There is one on the board and another player is holding two which she is using for her hand. Can she call me dead without exposing her hand?
    >Lynn

    Hi, Lynn. To respond to your question:

    I have an exposed, made hand.
    I don't know what that means. I assume you mean that an attentive player could know what hand you're making, thus what tiles you need.

    I need one soap.
    I assume you mean that you cannot use a joker because the soap is needed as a single or to complete a pair.

    There is one on the board and another player is holding two which she is using for her hand.
    I assume you mean that her two are concealed (that only she knows she has them). I also assume that you need one soap to complete a pair, since you have accounted for only three. Furthermore, I have to assume that, given your exposures, you have no chance to switch to another hand should you be unable to obtain a soap.

    Can she call me dead without exposing her hand?
    If all of my above assumptions are correct, then you should read Frequently Asked Question 19-AA. You can link to the FAQs above left. If any of my above assumptions are incorrect, then I don't have enough information to answer your question. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. And next time you write me, please don't make me make so many assumptions. Thanks!

    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
    March Forth, 2015


    How far back should we go to untangle a compounded error?

    >From: Stacey P W
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 6:19 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >We know that if a player is declared dead, the jokers that were exposed before that are still considered live, but the ones exposed with the death declaration are considered dead, so are not exchangeable. At our game tonight, one player called a flower and exposed her kong, which included a joker. The next player exchanged her flower for that joker. A moment later it was noticed that the kong was actually made up of 3 flowers and a 1 bam (the bam in this set is extremely flowery-looking and could easily be mistaken for a flower.) Was that joker actually dead and did we make a mistake allowing it to be exchanged?
    >Thanks,
    >Stacey

    Hi, Stacey. Your table didn't notice the 1B among the flowers until after the joker had been redeemed. If the error was noticed immediately (before the redeemer discarded, ending her turn - or even before the next player started her turn), then she should replace the joker, and the erroneous flower/1B kong should be returned to the sloping front of the erring player's rack (that's what always happens with erroneous exposures). But if the error was not noticed until some time after the redeemer discarded and another player played, then the redeemer can keep the joker (in my opinion). You can only unwind a cluster of errors just so far.
    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
    March 3, 2015


    The rule is on the back of the card but we were not sure

    >From: Jacqueline D
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 4:58 AM
    >Subject: MahJongg Question
    >Good morning,
    >A player called for a tile (flower) and called MahJongg. She racked the four flowers then (before racking the rest of her hand) realized she did not have MahJongg. Does play continue without penalty or is her hand declared dead?
    >Thank you for clarifying. The rule is on the back of the card but we were not sure if she continued without penalty since she did not reveal her entire hand.
    >Thank you.
    >Jacqueline D

    Hi, Jacqueline. This is covered in "Mah Jongg In Error" rule 2 on the back of the card. She "exposed part or all of the hand." Read it again. I don't see why there is any room for confusion, the way the rule is written. *
    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
    March 3, 2015

    * (If a player declared mah-jongg and exposed part or all of her hand, what does rule 2 say should happen? She did expose part or all of her hand, did she not? The rule is clear. - Tom)


    Frequently Asked Questions, part 3

    >From: Louise D
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 3:59 AM
    >Subject: Re: MJ
    >Regarding this ruling [Lynn's letter, below], what if someone else puts the tile on the caller's rack? Is that allowed and does the rule still apply>
    >Lou

    >From: Louise D
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 3:57 AM
    >Subject: MJ
    >What is the window of opportunity to pick up a discarded tile? I know if the next player racks her tile, the last discarded tile is dead. But, we don't "pick and rack." I've had people call a discarded tile at the same time the next player is just about to name and discard her tile and lay it on the table. Can that previous tile still be called?
    >Lou

    >From: Louise D
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 3:52 AM
    >Subject: MJ
    >Why are there numbers on the flower tiles? Do the Chinese use the numbers in their version? If so, why do some sets NOT have numbers? ( like my mother's old set).
    >Lou

    Hi, Lou. You asked:

    Regarding this ruling [Lynn's letter, below], what if someone else puts the tile on the caller's rack? Is that allowed
    Yesterday when I checked the board to find other people who had previously asked the question Lynn asked the League in her letter, I found that on January 8 you had asked me about people placing the called discard atop the caller's rack. At that time I told you there was no official rule, and I referred you to a post written by "andi c" on September 19, 2014. I told andi, "no player should disregard etiquette and common sense." It's a very bad idea to put a tile on another player's rack, even though there is no rule that says it's not permitted. It's just common sense. Nobody should ever be putting tiles on another player's rack.*

    and does the rule still apply>
    The rule says, essentially, "once you have made an action, you've committed yourself to completing the action." No player has the right to commit another player to make any action. If another player places a called discard atop a caller's rack and the caller has a change of heart, she herself did not make an action to commit herself, so she should have the right to put it back. If your group has people putting things on top of other things willy-nilly, a stop should be put to that.

    What is the window of opportunity to pick up a discarded tile?
    Frequently Asked Question 19-C.

    I've had people call a discarded tile at the same time the next player is just about to name and discard her tile and lay it on the table. Can that previous tile still be called?
    The next player has not yet named the tile, and has not yet placed the tile on the table. Read FAQ 19-C.

    Why are there numbers on the flower tiles? Do the Chinese use the numbers in their version?
    Yes. The numbers correspond to the players' seat positions. Having a flower with your number on it doubled your score.

    If so, why do some sets NOT have numbers?
    Not all variants use flowers the same way the Chinese originally used them.

    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
    March 3, 2015

    * There's an exception to every rule, including this sentence. A player who's physically handicapped might welcome a little help obtaining tiles. Again: common sense.


    Does your guide need some correcting, part 3 - Mistakes in American mah-jongg, part 2 - Frequently Asked Questions about American mah-jongg, part 2

    >From: Lynn McD
    >Sent: Monday, March 2, 2015 2:35 PM
    >Subject: NMJL ruling on exposure change of heart
    >Hi Tom—
    >I’m attaching a photo of my recent question to the NMJL and their reply, which I received today, FYI.
    >Lynn McD.

    Hi, Lynn.
    Well, that's that, then! What I had written in FAQ 19-AM-2 was based on a phone conversation Elaine Sandberg had with someone at the League in October, 2008. This letter contradicts what Sandberg told me she was told. I have always said, "get it in writing." I took seriously what Sandberg told me since she is a respected fellow author. But as I wrote in FAQ 19-BN, there are too many ways the information can get screwed up if you get a ruling over the phone.

    FAQ 19-AM-2 also refers to the 2007 NMJL newsletter. And this new letter both contradicts Sandberg's phone call and reinforces what the League said in January, 2007:

      Once a tile has been called for exposure and the exposure is put on top of the rack*... PLAYER CANNOT DECIDE THAT SHE DID NOT WANT THE TILE*... A CALL FOR A TILE IS JUST LIKE A PICK FROM THE WALL, ONCE TAKEN... IT CANNOT BE PUT BACK."

    *In the places marked with an asterisk, I deleted some words for the sake of brevity.
    Based on this new ruling, I will make adjustments to FAQ 19-AM-2 -- and this also changes the erratum as to rule 60.c in my book. I'm amending the errata (downloadable from http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/rdww.htm) as follows:

      P. 53 - Rule 60.c. This rule as written in the book was misconstrued from a rule given in a yearly bulletin from the National Mah Jongg League. The League clarified the rule in the January 2007 bulletin and in a letter to Lynn McDonald (as recorded in the Sloperama.com Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board in early March, 2015):

      Once the player has either put the taken discard atop her rack or exposed tiles from her hand, she has committed to the play and may not rescind the move.

    Thank you, Lynn, for putting in the effort and for sharing the letter. This also affects the reply I gave to Linda on February 28 and Patricia F on February 24 and my response to Lou on January 8.

    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
    March 2, 2015


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