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(Frequently Asked Questions)

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1. "Mah-Jongg 101"
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  -   7c2. Is It Ivory?
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The Mah Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION.

Hi. I'm Tom Sloper. Welcome to my bulletin board. Here you can ask questions about Mah-Jongg, and get answers, usually within hours!
  • 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 ABOUT AMERICAN / NMJL RULES. Your question has probably already been answered there.
  • IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT THE NMJL CARD, PLEASE READ FAQ 16.
  • IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A MAH-JONGG TEACHER, PLEASE READ FAQ 4A and check the Find Players/Teachers Bulletin Board and check FAQ 15.
  • When you're ready to ask your question, email your question to TomSloperama.com. I answer mah-jongg questions that are submitted by email only - telephoned questions are not welcome.


    Ask "Mister Mah-Jongg" a question!

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  • MCR vs. MIL, part 2

    >From: Juna Berry Madrone
    >Sent: Monday, December 11, 2017 10:42 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >I have taught Mahjong, MCR rules to over 35 people. I am listed as a teacher on your website, although now that I have moved to Bali, Indonesia, I need to update my contact info.
    >Mahjong was officially recognized by IMSA (International Mind Sport Association) last year. There are now many MIL tournaments worldwide. Here is a link to the article reporting the IMSA recognition from Mahjong News (sorry if you have to copy & paste): https://www.mahjongnews.com/index.php/news/reports/144-imsarecog.html
    >Thanks for your answer,
    >Juna

    You're welcome, Juna. I may have been fuzzy on what was future aspirations and what has already occurred, but I can say for certain that duplicate mah-jongg is not the only international competition variant. You can continue teaching MCR with a clear conscience, and with reasonable expectations of having plenty of occasions to play MCR in competitions in the Pacific world. If and when duplicate becomes more widespread, it probably still won't "take over" the mah-jongg world. People still enjoy the mix of skill and luck afforded by non-duplicate variants.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 12, 2017


    MCR vs. WMO vs. MIL ... ???

    >From: Juna B
    >Sent: Monday, December 11, 2017 8:59 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Regarding International Competitions with MCR, Official Chinese Tournament Rules. I'm confused about the difference between WMO (World Mahjong Organization) and MIL (Mahjong International League). I've been practicing and teaching others for years with the aim of eventually competing internationally. Are all international mahjong tournaments now duplicate mahjong games? I understand that the purpose of MIL is to promote Duplicate Mahjong and they seem to have many international tournaments. I don't want to play Duplicate Mahjong.
    >Thank you,
    >Juna

    Hi, Juna! You wrote:

    I'm confused about the difference between WMO (World Mahjong Organization) and MIL (Mahjong International League).
    The former is the organization behind Majiang Competition Rules (MCR), and who organizes competitions in mainland China. Their website is http://www.chinamajiang.com/.
    The latter is, as you said, the organization behind Duplicate Mahjong. The ultimate goal is to get mah-jongg accepted as a "mind sport" and part of international sports events. Google the term "mind sports Olympics" and check out the Wikipedia entries. Under Wikipedia's "World Mind Sports Games" entry, you'll see that bridge, chess, checkers (draughts), go, and xiangqi ("Chinese chess") are the first five games in the pantheon. The MIL's goal is to have mah-jongg added. The "duplicate" aspect was added to satisfy the IMSA's requirement that the games be all mind and no luck.

    I've been practicing and teaching others for years with the aim of eventually competing internationally.
    What variant have you been practicing and teaching? MCR?

    Are all international mahjong tournaments now duplicate mahjong games?
    No. The duplicate approach removes individual randomness, to make the game all skill and no luck. The duplicate approach can be applied to any variant (MCR, American, Japanese...). When or if mah-jongg becomes part of international mind sports competitions, duplicate will be used. But in international mah-jongg tournaments, mah-jongg rules will be non-duplicate as usual (Japanese, MCR, Zung Jung...).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 11, 2017


    How to prevent cat games?

    >From: carrollj
    >Sent: Sunday, December 10, 2017 8:57 PM
    >Subject: Mahj ?
    >Dear Tom,
    >My group played seven games last night and four had no winner! (We called them 'cat games ' but I see you call it a 'wall game ').
    >Is there anything to do to prevent this or are there strategies we might be use? Is there a type of player/play that could make this more common?
    >Thank you!
    > Jenine

    Hi, Jenine!
    I've had several people ask me why wall games seem to be happening more with the 2017 card. I wrote about that in column 684. And I've answered another frequent question about wall games in FAQ 19-BT.
    To answer your new question, though: I guess you could have fewer wall games if you stop playing so cagey. Got a hot tile another player might need for mahj? Go ahead and throw it! She'll win and you'll pay her double - but at least you won't be visited by that darn cat! >(^o^)<
    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
    December 11, 2017


    Column 692, oopsie in #3

    >From: Suzanne L
    >Sent: Sunday, December 10, 2017 1:10 PM
    >Subject: December 3rd column hand 3
    >Hi Tom
    >I think you made a mistake. We should hold 3C and 4C for the Consecutive Run hand. I would also hold the 7D for a possible 2017 hand, so I would also hold the red dragon.
    >Suzanne L

    Hi Suzanne!
    You are right, I misstated the numbers of the keepers for Consec #2. I can see holding the 7 for 2017. I was already holding Red for Consec dragon hands - but I think 2017 #2 is too far a stretch.
    Thanks for your comments! 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
    December 11, 2017


    My ... draggin', part 5

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Saturday, December 9, 2017 10:03 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >Regarding my comment on 12/4 about my group not liking the Chinese dragons, it was because they had to stop and ask "what is this?" Every time they got one. I know, it seems silly, as how can you not know what they are? Red is red, green is green and the soap is similar to the American soap. But, they just could not wrap their minds around dragons that did not look like dragons. Me? I loved them, they were beautiful! I should never have sold my set. But the lady who bought it absolutely loved it!
    >Bee

    I agree, Bee. It is silly - how can someone not know that it's not a dot, it's not a bam, it's not a crak, it's not a wind, it's not a flower, and it's not a joker. If it's green, what else could it be but a Green Dragon???
    And how many times do you have to give me that "what is this" stuff...
    I roll my eyes.
    Too bad you sold that set.
    Tom
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 10, 2017


    Players who put a tile on the table in front of their rack

    >From: "ssnd...
    >Sent: Thursday, December 7, 2017 5:50 PM
    >Subject: Unracked Tiles
    >Tom,
    >Is there a rule concerning exactly where all tiles must be located? On the Mah Jongg That's It! Facebook page there has been some discussion about players who may put a tile or two on the table in front of their rack and whether or not that person should be called dead. I am assuming that players do this when they know which tiles they are definitely going to discard. Technically the tiles are in their possession (usually on top of their card). I have also seen players place "unwanted" tiles on the flat part of their rack (unexposed) before they have an exposure. Is there a rule concerning this?
    >Thank you,
    >Susan

    Hi, Susan!
    Although I'm a member of that Facebook group, I don't check it regularly, so I haven't followed this particular thread.
    As long as all her tiles are on her rack or between her rack and the edge of the table, it's as you said: technically, the tiles are in her possession.
    You wrote...

    I have also seen players place "unwanted" tiles on the flat part of their rack (unexposed)
    I assume that the tile is standing on end, facing the player herself - but the tile's orientation doesn't really matter (I'm just trying to visualize the picture you're painting).

    Is there a rule concerning this?
    No. The National Mah Jongg League has never issued a rule about this.

    But I imagine that if this was questioned in a tournament, the tournament judge would order the player to keep her tiles on her rack according to custom.

    In a non-tournament game, if other players verbally object to the practice and are unanimous in their objection, then it would be very disharmonious for her not to abide by the players' request. If the other players unanimously decide to call her dead, they are within their rights (one or two persons issuing a death challenge that is unsupported by the official rules is not enough). If feelings are strong enough on this point, the group could be in danger of breaking up.

    As a teacher, I encourage my students to develop their skill beyond the point where they need to keep a finger on the card, or put gaps between concealed tiles, or utilize more real estate than is provided by the sloping front of her rack.

    As a player, I am quite forgiving of novices. My patience wears thin with players who are too slow, and with players who are not nice, and with players who insist on promulgating table rules as official rules. But when I'm playing with someone who is so confused by a straight uninterrupted line of 13 or 14 tiles that she has to resort to practices that give the other players clues about her hand (such as those outlined in the previous paragraph), I'm fine with that - I'll read all the clues she wants to give me, and I'll gladly take her quarters.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Pearl Harbor Day, 2017


    My club's rule

    >From: Kathy O
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 3:09 PM
    >Subject: Hand twice
    >My club has rule (once you win a hand, can't play again) on same day. Looked in your book, on line.
    >I personally like rule
    >Kathy O

    Hi, Kathy!
    So... you're telling me about your club's rule, so I can... I don't know, add it to my collection of table rules, I guess. Thanks.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 5, 2017


    Le Jeu Chinois, part deux

    >From: Florent V
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 3:05 PM
    >Subject: Hi again, tom!
    >Hi again tom sorry for being so late to answer you and thank you a lot for giving so fast answers :)
    >To answer you, i got about 126 scorings sticks some looks like they do not fit in this set
    >I confirm to you that it's not ivory but all bones & bamboo (except for box wich i don't know)
    >The four discs are inside the mingg but in various states as you'll see on the picture
    >I didn't send you the upper side of the case the last time, so there it is :)
    >I send you new photos that would maybe help you about the estimation. The wind discs are, as you can see, almost erased, some of the tiles are a bit used by the drying of the wood. The whole set is obviously used and old but for me look nice and still playable

    Hi, Florent.
    I would have liked it if you would have said which of the condition grades you felt apply to your set. But you didn't, so I will go by your photos and your description: "obviously used and old but ... look nice and still playable." I see obvious flaws in the photos: uneven discoloration (some tiles being darker than others), rather heavy Haversian streaking, broken drawer pulls, non-separated shrinkage of the bamboo, some cracking and/or separation of the light-colored (bone?) inlay on the box, and paint loss on the wind discs. To me, that indicates the overall condition of the set is just Good ("worn but reasonably attractive; any normal person would notice the defects without having to look for them"). Despite the low quality of the bone used for the tiles, the carving is well detailed. The intricate design of the box makes the box itself more desirable than the pieces contained in it, so I believe the set is worth closer to US$100 than it would be worth if the box was more ordinary. Added next morning, Dec. 6: in fact, the box alone is so desirable that a collector might spend upwards of US$200 for the set.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 5, 2017


    What's the scoop on the dead wall, part 2

    >From: Peter Y
    >Sent: Monday, December 4, 2017 11:15 PM
    >Subject: Question about the "dead wall"
    >Hello, Mr. Sloper,
    >thank you for explaining the "dora" term. And I'd like to ask another question: what this "dead wall" symbolizes? Or, at least, symbolized originally in the Chinese Classical mahjong? I've seen that it is called "wan pai" in Japanese - "king's tiles" (not so ominous as in English). What was it for? What king was it supposed to be? Thank you.
    >With best regards,
    >Peter

    Hi, Peter.
    Since I was not involved in the creation process of any dead wall rule, I can only guess as to the motivation for creating it. I can speak, however, to the effects a dead wall has on the play of the game. And I can comment on the terminology.

    You've probably heard of the "dummy hand" that is dealt to an empty side of the table in Euchre and Bridge. The effect is to remove a small set of random tiles/cards from the play, thus affecting strategy - no player can just count the cards and know what the odds are of getting a desired tile/card which will inevitably appear at some point. Consider that in Klondike solitaire, a large number of cards are hidden from play, face down, and some players like to further increase the difficulty by flipping not every card, but a short stack of three cards, from the draw pile. Additionally, setting aside 14 or so tiles and omitting them from play has the effect of shortening the game. This has the added effect of altering the odds of winning, from 25% to 20% (since the "wall game," a game nobody wins, happens more often), heightening the joy of achieving a win when it happens.

    "The king's hand" does not refer to any specific king or emperor. It sounds cooler to say "those are the king's tiles" than to say "those are the dummy's tiles." When I speak or write about the vagaries of chance in mah-jongg, I think it's more in keeping with the ethos and mythology of mah-jongg to refer to "the mah-jongg Goddesses" (when discussing American mah-jongg, which is played primarily by women) or "the mah-jongg Gods" (when discussing un-American mah-jongg), rather than "dumb luck." Thus "the king's hand" rather than "the dummy hand." What's the mystery here is why Bridge and Euchre use the latter terminology. And I guess "dead wall" is just descriptive, without use of colorful terminology.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 2, 2017


    My search is draggin', part 4

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Monday, December 4, 2017 10:06 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >For the player looking for an American set but with Chinese dragons - I had a set from Wherethewindsblow.com It was a Red Hat set which had red glitter backs with a light lavender face, red hats as jokers with extras included. I loved it, however I sold it as my group did not like the Chinese dragons! Perhaps they can help the player find a set.
    >Bee

    Thanks for the tip, Bee. I don't like that your group didn't like the chung and fa dragons. It smacks of a dislike or disrespect for the authentic Chinese origins of the game, and that bothers me.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 5, 2017


    If I'm playing a concealed hand…

    >From: Donna G
    >Sent: Monday, December 4, 2017 10:37 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If you are doing a concealed hand are you allowed to claim a joker from another player's exposure?

    Hi, Donna!
    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. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-BD. 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. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. 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 Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 4, 2017


    My search is draggin', part 3

    >From: Timothy A
    >Sent: Monday, December 4, 2017 9:53 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mar Jongg Set Question
    >You wrote 'So I guess you're saying you're going to buy a new set of tiles to put into your 1940 case’, well the answer is a simple Yes and No.
    >I teach American Mah Jongg at a local Senior center and already own 2 complete sets (one of each style). Occasionally I have more then 8 people wanting to learn however and so have to turn them away. As such I’m looking for the tiles to put into the old case for use at that time. I would hold onto the existing tiles so the original set would remain intact.
    >Because I do run into color blind persons from time to time (I play with one regularly also) and they do have issues with the ‘American’ style dragons, I’m looking for an inexpensive set with the Chinese chung and fa characters.
    >Tim A

    OK, IC. Good luck 2U, Tim!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 4, 2017


    My search is draggin', part 2

    >From: Timothy A
    >Sent: Sunday, December 3, 2017 6:32 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mar Jongg Set Question
    >HI Tom, Thanks for the quick response.
    >You wrote ‘Just to be clear…’ and you are absolutely correct. Just what I’m looking for.
    >If you don’t mind a link <https://www.nationalmahjonggleague.org/store.aspx#>, item # 29 (American-style) and Item # 32 (Chinese Style) are two examples of what I find. Now I know set #32 above has a black back but does that really add $40 to the cost?
    >I have an old 1940 set (it includes a NMJL card from that year) but doesn’t have Jokers. As such, I don’t need racks or a case. As you suggested, I’ll have to make some phone calls to see what some of the online vendors have but might not be showing online.
    >Tim A.

    Hi, Tim.
    You pointed to the store on the NMJL website. Set #29 is a typical American set, with American-style dragons in which the red and green dragons differ only in the color of paint.

    Personally, I wish the manufacturer would get wise to the fact that this is a bad practice - that the dragon designs NEED to look different. You also pointed to set #32, which (like sets 30, 31, and 33) have Chinese chung and fa characters. Those sets are all two-tone (having non-white backs).

    Personally, I think this type of set is both more authentic and more attractive. You followed up with a question:

    Now I know set #32 above has a black back but does that really add $40 to the cost?
    I really don't know what to answer to that, except to note that the plain white tiles are priced at $55.00 and the pink- and green- and black- and red-backed tiles are priced at $99.95, so: "apparently so."

    I am not privy to the manufacturing process or the cost of making those tiles. You do realize that for the plain tiles, they only have to make blank tiles and apply the designs, but for the two-tone tiles, they have to make fronts and backs and apply designs to the fronts and somehow affix the backs to the fronts (or make 2-layer plastic to start from, I don't know). I guess what I'm struggling to say is that I am not in any position to either explain or justify the price differential sufficiently to satisfy you.

    I have an old 1940 set (it includes a NMJL card from that year) but doesn’t have Jokers. As such, I don’t need racks or a case.
    So I guess you're saying you're going to buy a new set of tiles to put into your 1940 case. What are you going to do with your 1940 tiles? Seems odd to put new tiles in an old case with old racks. If you decide to sell your old tiles, their value will be reduced by dint of not having a case or racks. If you sold the 1940 set, surely that would help offset the cost of a new set in case with racks.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 3, 2017


    How is the NMJL governed, part 2

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Friday, December 1, 2017 11:27 AM
    >Subject:
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for the detailed info you provided--now I have many search options! Do you think it's worth a try to get my questions answered by writing to the NMJL?

    You're welcome, Linda. All I can tell you is that "worth" is subjective (whether something is "worth a try" or not is up to YOU to decide).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 1, 2017


    My search is draggin'

    >From: Timothy A
    >Sent: Friday, December 1, 2017 5:19 AM
    >Subject: Mar Jongg Set Question
    >Hi Tom, Just a (hopefully) quick question about buying sets for use in playing American Mahjong.
    >In your Column #547, you refer to the ‘American’ and ‘Chinese’ sets and their Dragon Designs. I play with a person that is Colorblind and so has difficulty with the Dragons of the ‘American’ set.
    >While I can find inexpensive (tiles only) ‘American’ style sets ($40-$70), the least expensive ‘Chinese’ style set I can find starts at $120 or so. Do you know of a place that sells the ‘Chinese’ style set (including Jokers) at a more reasonable price?
    >Tim A.

    Good morning, Tim.
    Just to be clear: you want a set to play American mah-jongg (complete with 8 jokers), but with Asian dragon tiles (not American-style dragon tiles).


    "Chung" and "fa" dragon tiles, as shown in FAQ 7D

    And you don't want racks (you want the tiles only), and you want it for under $100.
    If you want the tiles to be plastic (and to have Western indices in the corners of the tiles), the set will likely come with racks, and will likely cost more than $100. This set (below), which is pictured in FAQ 7D, is made of reconstituted fishbone and bamboo:

    Sets like the above were sold widely in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The tiles are perhaps slightly smaller than the typical size of American tiles. I had to put joker stickers on the blanks and the Chinese jokers (the set in the photo also includes 8 extra tiles borrowed from an identical set, for the purposes of the photograph). You might find such sets still on sale somewhere, perhaps on eBay. These bone-and-bamboo sets don't come with racks, and 17 years ago they cost under $80, but I don't know how much they are today.
    I own a nice plastic set with chung and fa dragons; it was made in Hong Kong by Kwong Fat Cheung (see FAQ 7Q, and click "A Hong Kong MJ Adventure," above left). I don't remember how much it cost (I bought it from one of the American vendors, I don't remember which), and I don't remember if it came with racks. It probably wasn't as cheap as what you're looking for. For what this is worth: I don't think any American-style set that costs less than $70 is worth owning; the tiles of such so-called "travel sets" are thin, chimey, and slippery, and no fun to play mah-jongg with.
    There are also American-style sets in which the red dragon is not depicted similarly to the green dragon (there is a graphical difference). But again, the price is probably going to be over $100. And many old Bakelite sets had differently-depicted dragons (but the price of those is definitely over $100). See also FAQ 7S. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    I think what you'll have to do is phone the online vendors and make inquiries. Good luck with your search!
    May the tiles be with you. Literally!
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 1, 2017


    How is the NMJL governed?

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2017 5:55 AM
    >Subject:
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for your answer about "scoring sticks". Now I have another question: I'm interested in learning about how the governing body of the NMJL works. Who makes the rules interpretations; how are the League members selected; did Larry Unger replace Ruth after she passed away or is there an election for president? How are the hands for each year's card chosen? If you could answer these or direct me to a website that has this information I would be very grateful!
    >Thanks so much, Linda

    Good morning, Linda!
    I am unable to answer all your questions, because I don't know the answers. I only know what I have been told by Larry and David (and what I was told by Ruth), and none of that answers the specifics you asked about.
    League members are self-selected (you become a member when you buy the card from the League). How the leadership of the League is selected I don't know, but it's within the legal requirements for 501c(3) organizations. Nobody owns the League (non-profits don't work that way). If you want to know more, GuideStar.org shows that the League's EIN number is 13-3791092, bridge number 3789440182, and cause area (NTEE code) is Public Foundations (T30). GuideStar's listing for the League is not complete, and shows an old address (or at least an address in NYC that differs from the League's address listed on the League's card and website). GreatNonProfits.org lists the same information as GuideStar. NonProfitList.org is more difficult to use - you can't search by name or EIN. Using that EIN, I found that the IRS lists the organization as a PF (private foundation). If you open your 2017 bulletin, you'll find a proxy form on page 7. The annual meeting of the members was held on February 7 this year; if you bought your card directly from the League last year, you'll receive the 2018 bulletin in January, with information on the next annual meeting.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 30, 2017


    Robbing the kong

    >From: Roni H
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 3:21 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >We had a discussion in my Chinese MJ group regarding robbing the kong. I said it has to be when there is an exposed pung and a player draws a tile to make it a Kong and it is someone’s MJ. The person who was going to Kong has to pay the person who has the MJ the amount of her MJ plus the additional amount for her robbing the kong.
    >
    >Another player had a pung in her hand and someone threw her tile for her Kong and someone else said MJ. She said that is also robbing the Kong.
    >
    >I have your book and I looked up robbing the Kong. On page 185 it states promoting an exposed pung to a Kong. In the appendix page 242 it states that a player is permitted to go out on a tile that a player uses to promote a Kong. Either case is considered a win by discard. In the second scenario “exposed” pung is not mentioned.
    >
    > With the exposed pung I assume the one who is going to Kong pays. If the second scenario is also valid there are now three players involved. The one who discarded, the one who is promoting her hidden pung into a Kong and the person who calls MJ. And if valid who pays?
    >Some clarification please. As always your time and help are greatly appreciated.
    >Roni

    Hi, Roni!
    You didn't mention which Chinese variant your group plays, but you cited my book, which describes MCR rules. (I know you have my book, but I don't know if everyone in your group plays by the rules in my book.) You wrote:

    I said it has to be when there is an exposed pung and a player draws a tile to make it a Kong and it is someone’s MJ.
    In other words, when someone picks a tile from the wall that lets her promote an exposed pung to a kong. Yes. That's one situation in which a kong can be robbed.* You are correct.*

    Another player had a pung in her hand and someone threw her tile for her Kong and someone else said MJ. She said that is also robbing the Kong.
    No. Read on...

    I have your book and I looked up robbing the Kong. On page 185 it states promoting an exposed pung to a Kong. In the appendix page 242 it states that a player is permitted to go out on a tile that a player uses to promote a Kong. Either case is considered a win by discard. In the second scenario “exposed” pung is not mentioned.
    I guess I was assuming that readers understood that the only kind of pung that can be promoted is an exposed pung. If you have a concealed triplet in the hand and you obtain a fourth such tile, that is not "promoting."

    There are two ways you can obtain a fourth tile to add to a concealed pung and create a kong - (1) by picking it from the wall yourself and then melding a "concealed kong" or (2) by taking a discard and calling "kong." The latter is not promotion - it's declaration (and subsequently making an exposed kong).

    If you call "kong" but another player calls "mah-jongg," then the mah-jongg declarer gets the tile, and you weren't involved at all (other than having your request for the tile be thwarted by the other player's mah-jongg declaration).

    So I don't think I need to issue a change to the RDWW errata (adding the word "exposed" to page 242).

    With the exposed pung I assume the one who is going to Kong pays.
    With the exposed pung, and promotion by discard, it's the discarder who pays. But as noted above, the kong never gets made (the fourth tile was hijacked by the robber) so the issue of someone having wanted the winning tile for a kong is moot.* But with the exposed pung, and promotion by self-pick, it is indeed the konger who pays (as you said). The robber is paid by the player who caused the winning tile to appear on the table.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 29, 2017

    * Edits made the next day upon re-reading last night's post. - Tom


    "Scoring sticks"???

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 8:13 AM
    >Subject:
    >Hi Tom,
    >I was reading Florent's interesting question about her MJ set (Nov 28) and your answer mentioned "scoring sticks". I searched for the term on your site but couldn't find it. Could you please explain what they are used for?
    >Thanks, Linda

    Hi, Linda! Hope you had a pleasant Thanksgiving. The use of sticks and chips is explained in FAQ 7D. I know players of American mah-jongg pay one another with coins (actual money), but as I have said often, American mah-jongg is the oddball of the mah-jongg world.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 29, 2017


    Le Jeu Chinois

    >From: Florent V
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 10:48 AM
    >Subject: Evaluation of Mah-jong game
    >Hey !
    >I just saw your site and i'd like your opinion about that game (i'll put photos at the end, sorry in advance for bad quality)
    >So, my mom told me that my grand ma got it by a woman who get it from the Aga Khan.
    >The book inside the box say "2 years after the war", after reading on internet i guess it's a 1920 one.
    >It's in our family for more than 20 years.
    >She also told me that the tiles are made of Ivory and Bamboo and the counting sticks are in bones. If she's true the box is in SantalWood and the ornaments are in Ivory.
    >There's silver on the drawer.
    >I keep searching something that looks like it on internet but i can't, maybe because Ivory become rare or because i search bad :D
    >Sorry for my poor english too, i'm french. I hope to read you soon !
    >Good evening !
    >Florent,

    Bonjour, Florent!
    I can tell you a little about your set, but since you didn't give me enough information, I can't give you a valuation yet.
    I see from your photos that you have the usual 148 tiles, and a mingg with lid (but I cannot tell if all 4 discs are inside it), and a dice coffin complete with lid and 4 dice. I see that your elaborate case is not missing its sliding front. I see from the full-size photos that your tiles are not ivory but rather bone (see FAQ 7C and FAQ 7C2, above left). I see that the tops and bottoms of your tiles show gaps between them where the wood has dried.

    The information I do not have from you, which is necessary to deriving a valuation, are:
    - How many scoring sticks are there?
    - Are there 4 discs inside the mingg?
    - What is the condition of all the parts? I need to know, is the set Fair, Good, Very Good, Fine, Mint? You can read how each of those conditions is defined in FAQ 7H, above left.
    I cannot tell you how much the set is worth without this crucial information.

    To respond to some of the things you said:

    my mom told me that my grand ma got it by a woman who get it from the Aga Khan.
    "The Aga Khan" is like saying "the President" or "the King" or "the Pope" - there have been several presidents, several kings, and several popes. So, too, there have been more than one Aga Khan. I presume the one in question must be Aga Khan III (Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah). It's not inconceivable that a religious leader of what is now Pakistan (then, it was part of India) would have presented a set made in China and marked with Western indices, together with a mah-jongg book written in French, to this friend of your grandmother's, but without a photo showing the Aga Khan giving the set to your grandmother's friend, or a letter from the lady to the Aga Khan thanking him for his gift, this history would be difficult to prove.

    The book inside the box say "2 years after the war", after reading on internet i guess it's a 1920 one.
    So you say the book fits into the set - presumably it fits atop the bottom drawer? I see from the full-size photo that the book's author says that it's been 2 and a half years since mah-jongg was introduced to France. That makes me think the book was written no earlier than 1922. That doesn't necessarily mean that the set was made in 1922 - but it is safe to assume that the set was made in the early 1920s.

    If she's true the box is in SantalWood and the ornaments are in Ivory.
    >There's silver on the drawer.
    I can't confirm that the box is sandalwood. I can't confirm there is silver. The inlay on the box is surely not ivory, since the tiles are not ivory. I cannot tell from your photos what the box inlay is made of. The box is ornate and could be valuable, depending on its condition.

    If you're curious about your flower tiles, see FAQ 7E. If you're curious what the bits and pieces are or how they're used in mah-jongg, see FAQ 7D.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 2, 2017


    Deluxe, vintage, possibly ivory, part 3

    >From: "d████
    >Sent: Monday, November 27, 2017 4:42 AM
    >Subject: Re: Majong bamboo & possibly ivory
    >Hi Tom--please remove all my emails to you off your blog. Thank you, D████

    Sorry you weren't happy, D████,but you ate the steak, so you have to pay. And as it has said atop this page for numerous years, the "price" is for the answer and the question to be given in public. I do regret that I took on a tone of suspicion based on the wording of your original question. It's not that I don't like eBay sellers - I've been an eBay seller myself! I am usually kinder and gentler to eBay sellers who email me questions and identify themselves as eBay sellers. I don't know why I get prickly when I perceive (rightly or wrongly) that they are being cagey. Again: sorry about my tone. Anyway, I've anonymized your name. Whatever you're going to do with that set, good luck!
    Tom


    Deluxe, vintage, possibly ivory, part 2

    >From: "d████
    >Sent: Saturday, November 25, 2017 5:06 PM
    >Subject: Re: Majong bamboo & possibly ivory
    >Hi Tom--the majong set is older than me and I am 62. My dad got it as a gift from my grandfather when he was stationed in Japan 65 years ago. I’m sure it’s a quality set that is not likely just plastic. The bottom is bamboo however the long pieces that goes with it looks like it could be plastic. Please don't post and pick everything apart that I say, its obvious you are a skilled blogger, thanks. D████

    Hi, D████!
    I'm glad you came back. I know the tone of my previous reply wasn't as warm and fuzzy as you might have expected. Explanation in a bit.
    Now you've added:

    My dad got it as a gift from my grandfather when he was stationed in Japan 65 years ago.
    Okay. It is conceivable that this plastic-and-bamboo set could be from the post-war years. It's just that your one tile looks like it could have been made as recently as the 1960s or 1970s. I needed more of the story than what you said in your first email.

    I’m sure it’s a quality set that is not likely just plastic. The bottom is bamboo however the long pieces that goes with it looks like it could be plastic.
    It looks like plastic to me, and I've seen a LOT of mah-jongg sets, and I used to work with a LOT of plastic. In my collection, I have some sets that are plastic backed with bamboo (made in Japan).
    Look at the tile in your photo - the top of the tile is very flat (no curvature), with square edges; that is a hallmark of plastic tiles. Consider that plastic tiles are machine made, and bone tiles are cut by hand.
    In addition, in your photo there is no Haversian system evident (so no evidence of bone), and there are no Schreger lines (so no evidence of ivory). Have you read FAQ 7c, 7c2, and 7c3 yet? As I said before, all I have to go on is one photo of one tile. You can check your tiles against all the info in the materials FAQs, and I cannot. You have all the real tiles in your set. I have just one photo of just one tile.

    Please don't post and pick everything apart that I say, its obvious you are a skilled blogger, thanks.
    It's not about me being a "blogger," it's about me having taken a LOT of emailed mah-jongg questions (for about 20 years), and my having to try to figure out what the asker is really trying to find out so I can answer the real question. I've had a lot of dealings with people who try to get answers from me, without their being straightforward about the reason for asking. All I can go from is the email I receive. And your first email to me was very short on information.

    Look at the words you used in your first email. If you're not an eBay seller, and you're just trying to find out what your grandfather's Japanese set is made of, why on Earth did you tell me the set is "deluxe"? What on Earth made you tell me it's "vintage"? If you aren't an eBay seller, you sure talk like one!

    By the way, I imagine that your set has 144 tiles. Because that's how many tiles a set made in Japan in the early 1950s would have (either that, or 148). If you ever decide to offer the set for sale on eBay, you'll need to provide an exact count (you can't just say it has "several pieces," if you want someone to give you money for it). And it's best not to use vague words like "deluxe" and "vintage." Before you offer the set for sale, I recommend you read FAQ 7N.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 25, 2017


    Deluxe, vintage, possibly ivory

    >From: "d████
    >Sent: Saturday, November 25, 2017 8:36 AM
    >Subject: Majong bamboo & possibly ivory
    >Hi--can you give me an idea what this majong set is made of? It’s a deluxe several piece vintage set probably at least 65yrs old.
    >Thanks kindly,
    >D████

    Hi, D████. You wrote:

    Subject: Majong bamboo & possibly ivory ... can you give me an idea what this majong set is made of?
    It looks like plastic to me. But I can't possibly tell much from one photo of one tile. You should read FAQ 7C and FAQ 7C2 and FAQ 7C3. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    It’s a deluxe ...
    "Deluxe"? What does that mean? Is that the name of the manufacturing company? Why are you telling me the set is "deluxe"?

    ... several piece ...
    Really. Several pieces. How about that.

    ... vintage set ...
    I don't know what "vintage" means to you. Read column 502 (January, 2012). Click the purple banner atop this page.

    ... probably at least 65yrs old.
    What makes you think the set was made before 1952? It doesn't look that old to me.

    D████, a lot of the words you used in your email sound like eBay-style puffery to me. "Deluxe... vintage... possibly ivory... several piece..." Are you an eBay seller who doesn't know much about mah-jongg sets? Were you ripped off by an eBay seller's exaggerated claims? Are you trying to check out an eBay sale to see if you should buy it or not? Don't you think you would get a better answer to your real question if you were more straightforward with the reason for your question?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 25, 2017


    What's the scoop on the dead wall?

    >From: lippylip26
    >Sent: Friday, November 24, 2017 2:14 AM
    >Subject: Drawing supplementary tiles
    >Hi Tom
    >Finally managed to get hold.of FOSTER ON MAH JONG book 1924
    >Am busy reading it
    >Saw something interesting
    >All the books I have seen on Mah Jong all say that when you draw a Bonus Tile or make up a Kong you draw it from the Dead Wall
    >Foster says.other wise
    >He says you draw it from the Live Wall
    >If that is the case it means there is no access to the Dead Wall at all during the game
    >Why did they do it like that and when was the rule changes from the Live Wall to the Dead Wall

    Hi, lippylip26,
    It's been a while since I went through those 1920s books. Re-checking Foster now, I see that he does indeed make no mention of a dead wall. I checked another 1920s book at random. I was trying to find one that included the American Code of Laws (Babcock, Foster, Hartman, Smith, and Work, 1924) but I didn't find one immediately, so chose Hartman.

    Hartman, too, makes no mention of the dead wall. You say the dead wall is in "all the books I have seen on Mah Jong." You didn't name any of those books, which I felt could make it harder for me to answer your question. But then I found the American Code of Laws in Work.

    And in the course of digging for your answer, found this link to The American Code of Laws for Mah-Jongg (1924) on the old rec.games.mahjong newsgroup. The introduction to the American Code of Laws begins (emphasis added by me):

      Before play begins, the players may select the Mixed-Hand game, the 
      One-Double game, or the Cleared-Hand game to determine the qualifications 
      for Mah-jongg. In the absence of a selection, the Mixed-Hand game shall be 
      played. The details of play are the same in all three games. They differ 
      only in Mah-jongg qualifications, in the dead wall provision, and in the 
      scoring.

    So, based on this paragraph, I believe the answers to your questions are:
    1. The dead wall was likely seen as necessary for certain of the variations that cropped up in the early 1920s in an attempt to mollify the hardcore players.
    2. The dead wall was likely introduced in the early 1920s.

    I know that the Japanese riichi/dora majan variant includes a dead wall with a 4-tile kong box. And that variant is much more recent, by decades, than the classic Chinese rules of the twenties. And there is no dead wall in MCR, which is much more recent.

    Curious, I also decided to check Millington (1993) to see if he describes the dead wall. He does, and that begs the question, does Millington claim that the dead wall is more "authentic" than the omission of the dead wall? In a quick perusal to refresh my memory of Millington's claims, what I find is that he merely says that his version of the various classical rules is "most perfect, philosophically considered" -- "the most logical and internally consistent."

    So that's the best answer I can give you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 24, 2017


    It's virtually impossible to purchase a mah-jongg set in retail stores

    >From: Clive and Margie C
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 1:49 AM
    >Subject: mahjong set
    >Good morning I have become very interested in the game Mahjong and along with 10 friends play weekly in a small coastal town in South Africa. ( I am told it is the absolute basic game-but am loving it)
    >I have found it virtually impossible to purchase a Mahjong set in this country and am travelling to Auckland New Zealand in December for 6 weeks. I am hoping to purchase a set there.
    >I did come across one in Durban South Africa yesterday in a China Mall but unfortunately it did not have the numerical numbers on the tiles. (the only 1 they had)
    >Was hoping you would be able to inform me of an outlet in New Zealand.
    >Much appreciated
    >Margie C

    Good morning, Margie!
    Unfortunately, the fact is that with some notable exceptions*, it's practically impossible for anyone anywhere to find a selection of Westernized mah-jongg sets in retail stores. Even here in the US, when people ask where to go shopping for sets, I tell them to go online, and have the set mailed to you. In most parts of the world, mah-jongg sets are not in high enough demand to justify the retail inventory cost. The Roaring Twenties were almost a hundred years ago. Back then, mah-jongg was a huge fad. Nowadays, it's hardly even a minuscule blip on the radar.

    * Those exceptions being primarily large cities with Chinatown districts.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 22, 2017


    MUST I first draw from the wall before redeeming jokers? (FAQ 19-M)

    >From: Tami W
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 12:46 PM
    >Subject: Long MJ question
    >I think I know the answer but just don’t like it!
    >A tile has been discarded, it is MY turn AND I can Mah Jong with it IF I can first exchange two of the tiles on my rack for two jokers – unbelievable but it really happened that I could capture two jokers from others. Is this possible or MUST I first draw from the stack before trading for jokers? To make matters worse, this tile was the last one available!
    >Tami W

    Hi, Tami!
    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. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 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. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. 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 Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 21, 2017


    After the first Charleston

    >From: TamiW
    >Sent: Monday, November 20, 2017 7:14 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Second Charleston: Does all action come to a stop after first charleston and then agree (or not) to second. Or can one person quickly pass tiles on and collect/rack from person to her right and say “sorry too late, I’ve racked” without ever discussing it?

    Hi, Tami! You wrote:

    Does all action come to a stop after first charleston
    No, that hardly ever happens, except when all are beginners and uncertain if it's okay to start the second dance or not.

    and then agree (or not) to second.
    It's nice if that happens.

    Or can one person quickly pass tiles on and collect/rack from person to her right and say “sorry too late, I’ve racked” without ever discussing it?
    That happens a lot, unfortunately. Especially when the group is accustomed to just always having 2 dances*, or when that one person is accustomed to a very fast group, or when that one person is sick and tired of another player constantly stopping the Charleston**.

    *I have gotten emails from players whose groups have a "never stop the dance" rule.
    **I have gotten many emails from players who complain about a player who constantly stops the dance.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 20, 2017


    Beginner questions about last year's card

    >From: Barbara R
    >Sent: Sunday, November 19, 2017 6:34 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >We are a group of seniors who recently began playing mahjong. We are still using the 2016 card. Here is our question: In the eleven hands, can you do 6 and 5? Do you have to do the suits as shown? For example, could you do dots for 3’s and bams for 8’s and cracks for 1’s?
    >Thank you for your help. Barbara

    Hi, Barbara!
    FYI, you can see the FAQs for the 2016 card at http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/2016.html.

    You asked...

    In the eleven hands, can you do 6 and 5?
    Long answer: The League's intent is that every player must play from the same exact list of hands - that's the entire purpose for printing the card. This intent would be thwarted if people start imagining extensions of the printed list, perceiving patterns and extending them to other patterns not printed on the card. The whole strategy of the game is in knowing or guessing what hands other players might be making from the printed list.

    Short answer: no, you can't.

    Do you have to do the suits as shown?
    That question makes no sense. The card does not specify any suit. Yes, there are colors, but colors do not dictate suit. Just imagine that the colors on the card are black, orange, and purple. Read on...

    For example, could you do dots for 3’s and bams for 8’s and cracks for 1’s?
    Read FAQ 19-BY and FAQ 19-J. You can link to the FAQs above left. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. 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 Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 19, 2017


    Playing Tenhou in English

    >From: Graeme H
    >Sent: Saturday, November 18, 2017 6:05 PM
    >Subject: Tenhou in English Chrome and Firefox add-ons
    >Hi there,
    >Just thought that you'd like to know that there are now add-ons for the Chrome and Firefox browsers that let you play Tenhou in English via the Tenhou HMTL5 web version.
    >The one for Firefox https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tenhou-english/
    >And here for Chrome https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/tenhou-english-ui/cbomnmkpjmleifejmnjhfnfnpiileiin
    >They seem to work perfectly.
    >You probably know about them already, but I just thought I'd drop you a line in the off-chance you didn't. I know it's a frequent bug bear to non Japanese speakers who want to play online.
    >Thank you for the information on your website, along with your book, it has helped me a lot.
    >Kind regards,
    >Graeme H
    >Scotland

    Very nice, Graeme! Thanks for sharing the info - I'll add it to the Tenhou listing in FAQ 5. Scratch that, I'll add a Tenhou listing in FAQ 5 with that information included!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 19, 2017


    David P's flowers (was "Is my set of any value")

    >From: heaton.ray
    >Sent: Thursday, November 16, 2017 11:11 PM
    >Subject: David P's set.
    >Hi Tom,
    >I thought David P (Nov 12th and 13th) may be interested in knowing a bit more about the flower tiles in his set; which as you suggest are exquisitely carved.
    >
    >The flowers have a couple of phrases that I don't see too often on mahjong tiles, one of which is my favourite found on tiles. The phrases refer to feminine beauty, and originate from stories of the four most beautiful woman in Chinese folklore, Diaochan, Yang Yuhuan, Xi Shi and Wang Zhaojun.
    >
    >One phrase is 閉月羞花, bìyuè-xiūhuā, hiding the moon, shaming the flowers.
    >

    >
    >In the Han Dynasty, Wang Yun had a singer (or more likely, concubine) Diaochan. One night Diaochan goes in to the garden and sings to the full moon; but the moon quickly hides itself behind clouds. Wang Yun sees this and says that Diaochan is more beautiful than the moon, she "outshines the moon".
    >
    >In the Tang Dynasty, Yang Yuhuan was taken as the imperial concubine by the Emperor because of her great beauty. On arrival at the palace and before she saw the emperor, Yang Yuhuan went in to the gardens; as she looked at or touched the flowers they would immediately close up. Her maids of honour said this happened because the flowers were less beautiful than Yang, and so the flowers hid themselves in shame.
    >
    >The othe phrase (and my favourite) is 沉魚落雁, chényú luòyàn, to make fish sink and wild geese alight.
    >
    >Xi Shi lived during the Spring and Autum period. One day, she and a group of her friends went to a nearby river to wash yarn. The water was so clear that they could see shoals of fish swimming in the water. The fish, too, could see the girls very clearly. The fish were so overwhelmed by the unparalleled beauty of Xi Shi, they forgot to swim and sank to the bottom of the river.
    >
    >Wang Zhaojun was another beautiful maiden who lived during the Han dynasty. Wang Zhaojun was sent as a gift to the king of an enemy country to pacify any desire for conflict. On her way to the distant north country, a flock of wild geese flying above her were so overcome by her beauty that they forgot to flap their wings and fell heavily to the ground.
    >
    >The phrases are used together, if a girl's beauty is overwhelming, she is said to have features that can make fish sink and birds alight, and looks that can outshine the moon and put the flowers to shame.
    >Ray

    Charming! Thanks, Ray!
    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
    November 17, 2017


    Derivation of Japanese terms

    >From: Peter Y
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 11:44 PM
    >Subject: Question about Riichi
    >Hello, Mr. Sloper,
    >could you please tell, how exactly the "dora" term translates from Japanese? I know what it means, but what are its origins? Was it derived from "door" somehow? And I also found a term for dora indicator - "mekuripai" (one that opens in the dead wall). Do you know how it translates as well? Thank you very much.
    >With best regards,
    >Peter

    Hi, Peter!
    Interesting questions:

    could you please tell, how exactly the "dora" term translates from Japanese? I know what it means, but what are its origins?
    I can only guess that it's short for the English word "dragon" (which the Japanese would pronounce "doragon"). Everybody knows mah-jongg is from China, and Chinese dragons are an appealing part of Chinese mythology - so all non-Chinese forms of mah-jongg use the term "dragon" in one way or another. In Taiwanese mah-jongg, a "dragon" is what's called a "snake" in Western mah-jongg (1 through 9 in any suit). In western forms of mah-jongg, the Three Scholars are called "dragon tiles." So the Japanese also have a dragon.
    That's my guess, anyway.

    And I also found a term for dora indicator - "mekuripai" (one that opens in the dead wall). Do you know how it translates as well?
    I had never heard the term before you brought it up. I looked it up - the verb mekuru means to "roll up" so mekuripai means "rolled-up tile" or "flipped over tile."

    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
    November 15, 2017


    If a player has not racked a tile and just laid it down on the table

    >From: Sharon W
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 5:56 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If a player has not racked a tile and just laid it down on the table, can the next player go back to the previous players tile that she missed calling for and call it?
    >Sharon W

    Hi, Sharon!
    Welcome to my website. You're asking about the "window of opportunity" to claim a discard. Read column 458, column 639, FAQ 19A, and FAQ 19C. Any one of those will probably answer your question well enough, but if you read them all, the answer should be crystal clear.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 14, 2017


    Is my set of any value, part 2

    >From: David P
    >Sent: Monday, November 13, 2017 10:15 PM
    >Subject: Re: Thank you for your time is my set of any value or was it just a fun thought to think so?
    >Thank you for getting back with me I guess a more direct question would be if I was trying to sell my set would you be able to tell me what a fare price would be based on the pictures and info I sent? I don't want to over price it and have it sitting around for years yet I don't want to give it away either.
    >Thank you and I pray you have a blessed day!
    >David Perry

    Good morning, David. You didn't provide a picture of the box, and you didn't couch the condition of the components in collectors/appraisers terminology, as per FAQ 7H. So I'm shooting in the dark here.

    Those slide-top box sets' tiles are usually smaller than the tiles of the drawer-box tiles. But you say your tiles measure 1 3/16” H x 13/16” W x ½ D, which is closer to regular size.

    You didn't say if the slide-top fits properly on the box, so I have to assume that it does. The bottom of the box is cracked, so I'm shooting in the dark and calling the box "Fair to Good." Since I can't see the quality of the paint? carving? on the box top, I have to go with "Fair" so as not to overvalue the set.

    Your tiles have Haversian System, and a 7C is smudged and an S is missing paint - I see smaller smudges or dirt on several other tiles. The condition of your tiles is also "Fair to Good," perhaps closer to "Fair." But there are desirable characteristics of your tiles: the craks' upper markings are green instead of black, and the flowers are very attractively carved.

    The set has no dice, sticks, chips, or paper materials. With no photo, I cannot see how the tiles fit into the box, to see if there is even room for those things. Those things might be missing, or they might never have been included in the first place. I can't tell. Shooting in the dark, I'm saying those things are missing, which reduces the value.

    Slide-top sets are generally not as valuable as drawer sets.

    I'm guessing it might be worth $80-90.
    May the tiles be with you sold.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 14, 2017


    Charleston missteps with three left feet

    >From: Courtenay M
    >Sent: Saturday, November 11, 2017 9:33 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: three players we are at second left when east discovers she has 15 tiles instead of 14. another player decides to solve the problem by reaching over and taking two tiles off of east’s rack. East says you can’t do that. If I have too many tiles I am dead so there fore the other two players should continue to play. I thought there was a rule you never touch tiles on another players rack. So what to do since the the player who took the tiles off of easts rack is mad and wants to continue play with out calling east dead. East said lets just throw in and start over. Other player didn’t like that either and got angry and decided to pack up and go home. This happens frequently when we play someone winds up with too many tiles They don’t want to be declared dead so the group usually just lets them throw down the extra tile

    Hi, Courtenay! Sorry I took so long to reply. I took a weekend off from emails. Your email touches on several points...

    we are at second left when east discovers she has 15 tiles instead of 14. ... East said lets just throw in and start over.
    East has a copy of the official rulebook, does she? Because she's basically quoting rule 9 on page 18. Good for her! In my opinion, EVERY player should own (and read) the official rulebook.


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    It was revised in 2013. Every table
    should have an up-to-date copy!

    another player decides to solve the problem by reaching over and taking two tiles off of east’s rack.
    You should show her FAQ 19-CF. (You can link to the FAQs above left).

    East says you can’t do that. ... I thought there was a rule you never touch tiles on another players rack.
    Actually, there is no printed rule that says that. It's a question of etiquette, not rules.

    If I have too many tiles I am dead so [therefore] the other two players should continue to play.
    Nobody goes dead during the Charleston - where's the fun in that?? What she said before (rule 9 on page 18).

    So what to do since the the player who took the tiles off of easts rack is mad and wants to continue play with out calling east dead. East said lets just throw in and start over. Other player didn’t like that either and got angry and decided to pack up and go home. This happens frequently
    The fix for this is simple: everybody needs to READ THE RULES. Your players are confused about what is a rule and what is an opinion - they need to all understand what the rules are, and what constitutes mere etiquette or strategy. The three are separate, and should not be confused.

    when we play someone winds up with too many tiles
    This is probably caused by a poor understanding of how the rules say the deal is supposed to happen - and/or a confused Charleston dance. It's totally common for players to get confused in the complicated Charleston dance. The best solution for that is to verbally (and clearly) announce what pass you are making, at the time you place your three tiles. "First right." "Across." "First left." "Second left." "Second across." "Last right." If everybody announces their passes, confusion is reduced. I love confusion reduction! And to complicate things even more, you are trying to orchestrate a made-up 3-person Charleston, which means people are even more likely to screw something up. See column 532.

    They don’t want to be declared dead so the group usually just lets them throw down the extra tile
    Read FAQ 14. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    I hope it goes better going forward! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 13, 2017


    Column 683

    >From: Joni D
    >Sent: Monday, November 13, 2017 4:48 AM
    >Subject: Column #683
    >Hi Tom - learning a lot from your column.
    >I have a question on Hand#6 - I see potential 369 #2. So 9D & 3C are hot.
    >Please let me know if I am seeing things. My assumption is that the exposure is not in hand order of the card.
    >Thanks, JoniD

    Hi, Joni!
    Let's see, column 683... July 23. Hand number 6, a kong of sixes in one suit and a pung of nines in another suit. You say 369 #2? No, the nines have to be a kong - not a pung. And yes, the exposures are not in card order. It is not advisable to put exposures atop the rack in card order. I always put them up in chronological order - as per FAQ 19-Z. Thanks for writing!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 13, 2017


    Is my set of any value?

    >From: David P
    >Sent: Sunday, November 12, 2017 7:15 AM
    >Subject: Thank you for your time is my set of any value or was it just a fun thought to think so?
    >1. Write a factual detailed list
    >Wooden Box with 3 chambers inside bottom of the box is stamped “VKS 468”and it has a slide on lid with 2 Chinese letters and the words “Mait Jongg” it is dovetailed corners and has a crack on the bottom of the box.
    >2. IMPORTANT: Describe the condition of all the components of the set.
    >#5 Dots tiles look somewhat “grainy”
    >One of the #3 Bams has a chip / defect in the top left corner of the bone
    >One of the #7 Cracks has poor paint
    >One of the #S winds is missing most of its paint
    >One of the #7 Bams is missing paint on the 7
    >#5 & #6 Bams look somewhat “grainy”
    >3. What are the tiles made of ?
    >They are made of bone and bamboo
    >4. Describe what you know about when the set was made or purchased, if you know. Describe the history of the set to the best of your knowledge
    >I came across the set at a Good Will Store in November of 2017 what caught my eye was the tightness of the dovetailed tiles I then noticed that the set looked old and I started doing research on the set and that is all I know
    >5. What are the dimensions of the tiles?
    >1 3/16” H x 13/16” W x ½ D the bone is 5/16” from top of tile to bottom of the dovetail
    >6. How many tiles are there in the set?
    >36 Dots
    >36 Bams
    >36 Cracks
    >16 Winds
    >8 Dragons
    >8 Flowers
    >8 Blanks
    >0 Jokers
    >Total of “148”
    >Thank you and I pray you have a blessed day!
    >David P

    Hi, David! Sorry for the delayed response. I took the weekend off from emails. Your only question is a yes/no question:

    is my set of any value[?]
    Yes.

    You should read column 610, David. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 13, 2017


    Can I redeem a joker from a dead player's rack?

    >From: Betty D
    >Sent: Monday, November 6, 2017 5:30 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: After calling a player’s hand dead is it allowed to take the jokers used for earlier exposures or are they also classified as dead?
    >Thanks, Betty

    Hi, Betty!
    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. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-P. 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. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. 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 Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 6, 2017


    Bakelite vs. catalin

    >From: Jacqueline M
    >Sent: Sunday, November 5, 2017 10:49 PM
    >Subject: Color of Bakelite tiles
    >I have 2 Mah Jong sets. One is Bakelite, I think, and the color of the tiles is a darker orange like butterscotch. Do the tiles darken naturally over time? Because of the dark color, is this set older or has it just been exposed to light more? This set is also very smooth. It is in a flat case with 2 trays, alligator skin like covering and velvet inside. The racks are also Bakelite, wood look with chips and pins on the end.
    >
    >The other is a Cardinal set made of Catalan. I think it is younger. The tiles are lighter in color. It also has a few minor blemishes if I look closely. It also was in a flat case and has varied colors of the racks with chips and pins on the end.
    >
    >So, is the color indicative of age or care or use? How does the color effect the value? Is Bakelite more durable than Catalan? Does one material color more than the other? Will the continue to Age? Should they be stored in the box to prevent further coloration?
    >Thank you for you help
    >Jacque' M

    Good morning, Jacque'!
    I've been told that tiles are catalin and racks are Bakelite because Bakelite is by nature quite dark. But take a look at FAQ 7c3; the two are similar plastics, possibly with different additives ("fillers").
    Tiles can darken with age and handling, but there's no precise understanding of how that works. As for value, what's best is tiles that can't be told from one another when stacked in a wall (if some tiles are easily distinguished from one another, that can decrease the value of the set). Sorry that I can't answer all your questions. I assume you've read FAQ 7C. You can link to FAQ 7C and FAQ 7c3 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 Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 6, 2017


    game with mixed chows, part 2

    >From: kerrie j
    >Sent: Friday, November 3, 2017 3:29 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mahjong game
    >Thanks Tom,
    >I would just like to combine our hand choices with a mixed chow and winds hand. Is it in one of your books and what is it called
    >Cheers kerrie
    >Kerrie

    Kerrie,
    You're asking me to scour through fourteen books and six websites, to find a hand that might or might not exist. I don't want to!
    Just call it "Windy Blossom," why don't you? Different authors give different names to the same hand - and use the same name to describe different hands. And people make up their own hands all the time (read FAQ 14). If you want to look at the six websites, see FAQ 4b. You can link to the Frequently Asked Questions above left.
    May the tiles be with you. Cheers!
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 3, 2017


    game with mixed chows and a pung and pair of winds

    >From: kerrie j
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 1, 2017 11:16 PM
    >Subject: Mahjong game
    >Hi Tom,
    >Do you know of a game with mixed chows and a pung and pair of winds.
    >Similar to apple blossom
    >Cheers Kerrie from australia
    >Kerrie

    G'day, Kerrie!
    I assume when you say "game" you don't mean "set of rules" but rather "hand." And since you're from Australia, I further assume you're asking about a hand in the Western/British/Australian rules, like the question from Anne M earlier this week, who asked about Little Robert and Gertie's Garter.
    Anne M's group was playing from one of the Thompson & Maloney companion books (which I found out only after searching fruitlessly through my large collection of mah-jongg books on Western rules, using Google to search the Web, and asking Anne to email me back again). I don't want to repeat that lengthy search based on my poor understanding of what you're looking for.
    So I looked in Mah Jong, Anyone? and didn't find this Apple Blossom hand, and then went straight back to T&M. I looked in the same book Anne M was using, and I found your Apple Blossom hand there. "Mixed chows," with dragons.

    Is this what you're asking about? A hand with "mixed chows," but with a pung and a pair of winds? ...

    And why are you asking, and why do you need to know? What is it you REALLY want to know? Are you in Anne's group, and you want to know if your group will recognize such a hand? Would it help you if another list of Western/British/Australian hands (in a book by a different author, or on some website) includes such a hand? Or does the hand have to be in the same book your group uses? If you are in Anne's group, then in my opinion you ought to use hands that are listed in the book your group is using.

    For all I know, the group would recognize any Western/British/Australian hand, from any book or website, as long as you can point to it. The problem with such a practice is that different books/websites may use different values for similar hands (overvaluing or undervaluing comparable hands). Since dragons are rarer than winds, for instance, an Apple Blossom variant with winds instead of dragons would be easier - thus should be valued lower.

    If you are asking me to see if I can find your Mixed Chows with Winds hand in Thompson & Maloney's The Mah Jong Player's Companion, then I decline. If you play using that book, you should study it so you can play from it - and so you can find hands in it when challenged by your opponents.
    May the tiles be with you. And cheers back atcha!
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 2, 2017


    The probability and difficulty, part 2

    >From: Jane S
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2017 9:02 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply

    You're welcome, Jane.


    The probability and difficulty of different hands

    >From: Jane S
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2017 7:16 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I am trying to find information on the probability of different hands and the difficulty of achieving each. Is there anything that exists that you know of?
    >American
    >Thanks

    Good morning, Jane.
    As I mentioned in FAQ 19-CI, any player who calculates the probabilities of the hands of the National Mah Jongg League card would have to recalculate them every year, since the card changes every year, and the combinatorics would be different with each card. That's a daunting amount of mathematical work, and your assumption that some player of American mah-jongg is calculating that every year, and publishing it online, is surely fallacious.

    But let's talk generally, without mathematical analysis, about difficulty of hands on the yearly NMJL card. The factors affecting difficulty are:

  • Pairs (and singles)
  • Concealment
  • Value
  • Tile rarity

    Pairs - it should be obvious that pairs are harder to make than pungs or kongs, since jokers cannot be used and a pair cannot be made from a discard except for mah-jongg. That said, a four-pungs-and-one-pair hand is easy to make (which is why the League always marks those hands C for Concealed). Count the pairs in the hand; the more pairs, the harder the hand is. Kongs are a little more difficult than pungs, and quints are a bit more difficult than kongs. And singles are less difficult than pairs.

    Concealment - it is obvious that Concealed hands are a bit harder to make than eXposed hands (so much so that when I was speaking to 156 players at Merage JCC a couple weeks ago, a significant portion of them raised their hand when I asked how many avoid those hands). The easiest Concealed hands are the four-pungs-and-one-pair hands. The hardest Concealed hands are the S&P hands.

    Value - it should be obvious that the League values the hands according to difficulty (roughly speaking). Still, not all 25¢ hands are equally easy; some have no pairs, some have two pairs. And some have a "201x" (four singles, and one of them rare) in them. In general, it's safe to say that the higher the value is, the greater the difficulty.

    Rarity - of course, there are four of each tile, except for the flowers and jokers, meaning none of them is inherently rarer than another... but consider how they're used on the card. Suit tiles are used flexibly - that is to say, if a hand requires a two, you can use any two, and there are twelve possible twos to choose from. There are just 5 tiles that are called for inflexibly by the card: E, S, W, N, and soap. In most cases, when you see E on the card, that means the only tile you can use is E - and there are just four of those. Same for zero. But when you see D on the card, there are twelve possible Ds to choose from. The least rare tiles are, of course, flowers and jokers - not that they don't seem rare when you need a flower pair or just one more joker!

    I hope the above is helpful, because frankly, my dear, there just ain't any hard number calculations on probabilities, statistics, or combinatorics about American mah-jongg out there.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 31, 2017


    Can you recommend a mahjong set please

    >From: Lesley W
    >Sent: Monday, October 30, 2017 3:45 PM
    >Subject: Can you recommend a mahjong set please
    >Thank you, Lesley

    I'm sorry, Lesley, but I don't know how to help you with this request. I don't know what kind of mah-jongg you play, whether you and your group can read Chinese or not, or what your tastes are (maybe you want a new plastic set? maybe you want a "vintage" set? what's your favorite color? mine is yellow). I haven't bought a mah-jongg set in years, because I already have too many, so I haven't sampled recent selections. I recommend you click the "FAQ 4a Selected Links" link, above left. Then, when you land on the FAQ 4a page, click "Mah-Jongg Sets & Goods" to jump down to "Commercial Vendors and Suppliers." Try clicking on several of the links and check out their wares. If it's all too confusing for you, choose one vendor whose phone number you can find, and telephone them, and plead for mercy. They should be happy to help you choose a set. Happy shopping!
    May the tiles be with you (literally!).
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 30, 2017


    How can you use a discard to form a special set? (part 2)

    >From: anne m
    >Sent: Monday, October 30, 2017 2:56 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom, thanks for your very detailed reply. I understand now. You ask about Little Robert, well it’s in the Mah Jong Players Companion by Thompson and Maloney and is described as a Chow in each suit, P/K + Pair in any suit. I don’t know if this version is similar to the T & M one you mentioned it has all the combinations illustrated but the description as to how to play, rules etc., are not particularly detailed. This is why we came unstuck when trying to pick up for Gertie’s Garter.
    >Do you think we would be best to find the other book by them. As beginners we are struggling. I also hasten to add that we are all senior citizens! We all belong to the U3A in our area. University of the Third Age. We set up groups to socialise and to learn new skills. They can range from card games to astronomy, in this case Mah Jong. The couple who set ours up only play the ‘ordinary’ game but one of the group had played the more complicated form. So we decided to have a go. Unfortunately the lady who has played it did so over 20 years ago and she remembers little.
    >If you can suggest anything that would help we would be very grateful.
    >Many thanks
    >Anne

    Good morning, Anne! I'm glad you returned with the answer to my question.

    You ask about Little Robert, well it’s in the Mah Jong Players Companion by Thompson and Maloney
    Darn that Patricia and Betty - they have 3 books, and after I checked 2 of them, I didn't bother checking the 3rd.

    and is described as a Chow in each suit, P/K + Pair in any suit.
    Then it's just a simple chows/pungs/pair hand, and I don't know why you mentioned it in the context of your question about how to claim a discard to complete a set.

    I don’t know if this version is similar to the T & M one you mentioned it has all the combinations illustrated but the description as to how to play, rules etc., are not particularly detailed. ... Do you think we would be best to find the other book by them. As beginners we are struggling.
    Yes, you need the book I showed in yesterday's reply. That one gives details about how to play. Their other two books do not (they are just companion books).

    I also hasten to add that we are all senior citizens!
    So am I. I don't see how that information changes anything.

    We all belong to the U3A in our area.
    I heard from another U3A mah-jongg player, last August. David of Folkestone asked about a "Shocking house rule." If you're curious to read that 2-part exchange, you can scroll down to read it (or search for the term "U3A" or "Strange Pung").

    The couple who set ours up only play the ‘ordinary’ game
    I don't know which one that is. There are many mah-jongg variants. You can see a list in FAQ 2B.

    but one of the group had played the more complicated form.
    Yes, British/Australian rules are complicated in their own way.

    So we decided to have a go.
    When I teach absolute beginners, I always start them off with simplified rules to make sure they have the basics down, before getting into the specific complications of their chosen variant.

    Unfortunately the lady who has played it did so over 20 years ago and she remembers little.
    Not unusual. Not all players are good teachers.

    If you can suggest anything that would help we would be very grateful.
    All players in your group should purchase the same book, and read it (including your player who's forgotten how to play). Since you're already using a T&M companion book, get The Game of Mah Jong Illustrated. It's readily available at the usual online booksellers. And bookmark my FAQ 20, where all the frequently asked questions about un-American mah-jongg are answered.

    Cheers! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 30, 2017


    What if the winner picked up the wrong discard by mistake, part 5

    >From: Belinda - Frontier
    >Sent: Sunday, October 29, 2017 4:54 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Picking up the wrong discard
    >In your retraction you quoted the recent newsletter as follows:
    >2017 (Larry Unger):
    >Q: When is a player committed to take a discarded tile from the table?
    >A: You are committed to a call when you have either exposed tiles from your hand, or placed the called tile on top of your rack.
    >In Larry's answer he states "placed the called tile on top of your rack". I believe that the critical term is "called tile". If someone picks up the wrong tile, s/he did not pick up the "called tile". Therefore I would think that this answer does not apply to someone who picked up the wrong tile. What do you think?
    >Bee

    Thanks, Bee, but I think I'll stick with my retraction. Yes, the wording of the 2017 rule is rather broad, but I'm satisfied that it covers Joan and Carla's situation. On another occasion, when a slightly different unanticipated event takes place, I might still re-interpret it. That's the way with broadly written rules; they're open to interpretation.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 29, 2017


    What if the winner picked up the wrong discard by mistake, part 4

    This is a retraction. I'm revisiting what I said to Carla C on Oct. 24th, and what I wrote in the Oct. 29th column (#691). I rechecked my sources on the "change of heart" rule as it applies to picking up a discard. My original interpretation was based on this ruling from a National Mah Jongg League newsletter:

      2007 (Ruth Unger):
      Once a tile has been called for exposure and the exposure is put on top of the rack, player may add to the exposure or take away from the exposure as long as player has not discarded...but...PLAYER CANNOT DECIDE THAT SHE DID NOT WANT THE TILE SHE CALLED FOR EXPOSURE< (sic) PUT THE DISCARD BACK ON THE TABLE, AND THE OTHER TILES [back] INTO HER RACK...A CALL FOR A TILE IS JUST LIKE A PICK FROM THE WALL, ONCE TAKEN...IT CANNOT BE PUT BACK.

    That ruling refers to "exposure" - one could also loosely interpret this to include mah-jongg, but Ms. Unger did not specifically include mah-jongg in her ruling. I checked the most recent newsletter and found this:

      2017 (Larry Unger):
      Q: When is a player committed to take a discarded tile from the table?
      A: You are committed to a call when you have either exposed tiles from your hand, or placed the called tile on top of your rack.

    This is a wider-ranging statement, since it does not limit the rule to simple exposure. I was mistaken when I told Carla: "Unless I am mistaken (and I often am), there is no written rule that specifically says that a player must 'play with the tile she picked up,' including a mah-jongg declaration play." In addition, I was wrong when I wrote in column #691: "There is no written rule that specifically says that a player who picks up a wrong tile in the course of mah-jongg cannot rectify the error." The 2017 newsletter rule does indeed say that (albeit broadly rather than specifically).

    Thus I'm retroactively striking out my incorrect statements. Carla was not incorrect in calling Joan dead for picking up the wrong tile. It was a bit strict (and I still would let Joan have the win), but rules are rules.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 29, 2017


    How can you use a discard to form a special set?

    >From: anne m
    >Sent: Sunday, October 29, 2017 5:11 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi my friends and I are just learning and we would like to know please: if you are trying to make a specific ‘set’ e.g Gertie garter, or little Robert, how do pick up from the discarded tiles. We have always played the original sort where you declare a Pung or chow, but how to you pick up when going for the a complete ‘set’?
    >Hope you understand what I’m asking, difficult to explain. My mah-jongg question or comment is: Thank you Anne M

    Hi, Anne!
    I understand your question perfectly, but I'm confused as to what book or website you are using as your rulebook. Since you mentioned Gertie's Garter, I assume you are playing a Western-style ruleset (Australian or British or Wright-Patterson). I dug through my books to find the two hands you mentioned. It was easy to find Gertie's Garter, which is described as either "one through seven in one suit and one through seven in a second suit" or "knitted pairs of one through seven, in two suits only."

    Based on your question, I assume your rulebook uses the former description. Since you say you "have always played the original sort where you declare a Pung or chow," I assume that you already know that you can never claim a discard to expose a pair (except for mah-jongg). So I assume your question is based on how one can claim a discard to expose a run of seven.

    You can't.

    The only sets you may expose from a discard are chows*, pungs*, and kongs. And of course you can go mah-jongg on a discard, no matter how the discarded tile is used in your hand.
    *(A chow is a run of three sequential numbers in one suit; a pung is three identical tiles.)

    So now I've answered your question, but your email raises a huge question for ME! You mentioned "Little Robert" in the context of your question, so I tried to find Little Robert in my library of books. In looking for Little Robert, I checked all these books (I just mention author names because titles always sound too similar):

  • Max Robertson
  • Wright-Patterson
  • Dieter Kohnen
  • K. J. Carkner
  • David Pritchard (Teach Yourself)
  • Headley & Seeley (BMJA)
  • Thompson & Maloney
  • Jelte Rep
  • Strauser & Evans (& Sloper) - finally it occurred to me to check this one too. Although I'm listed as a co-author, I really just edited it and added a chapter. No Little Robert.

    "Little Robert" was not listed in any of those books. Then I decided to go online and use Google. I found some mentions:

  • I found "Little Robert" on "smoothguide," a UK website where it says "All the information collected was from players of the game.  Mostly written on scraps of paper, or typed with carbon copies..." Smoothguide describes Little Robert as: "Four chows in one suit, pair of any suit." But that doesn't seem to fit with what you are asking, Anne. So I kept looking.
  • I found a 1994 list of hands including "Big Robert" on rec.games.board - a newsgroup I never frequented back when I was active on the rec.games.mahjong group. No Little Robert.
  • An Australian player mentioned Little Robert in 2013 on this board (http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive25.htm) but without a description.
  • And I found a question about it from 2009 on this board (http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive9.htm). Guess what? I searched for "Little Robert" to no avail eight years ago already! Reading those 2013 and 2009 questions on this board, I realized that when I went through the books I totally forgot to check Thomas Glass and Nancy McKeithan. Not that it would have mattered.
  • In "Hillsboro Mahjong" ( a 2012 online booklet by Denny Barlow, referencing Max Robertson) I found "Chow in each suit, Pung and pair in different suits." Again, I don't see how that fits with what you are asking. And I'm not sure where "Hillsboro" is, but it might be in the Bahamas.
  • On spela.online/mahjong-specialhander/ I found "Tre 'blandade chower' ( t ex bambu 1, tecken 2, och cirkel 3), ett     par i vindar och en pong i drakar eller tvärtom." Sounded to me like knitted chows. I use Google Chrome, and made the browser translate it for me: "Three "mixed chowers" (eg bamboo 1, characters 2, and circle 3), a pair of winds and a pong in dragons or vice versa."
  • Finally (silly me) I searched the Mah-Jongg folder here on my computer. I found it in two files a player in Freeport, the Grand Bahamas, sent to me in 2009: "Little Robert: Chow, 1 each suit - 1 P and 1pr (no W or D) ½."

    So we have these varying definitions of "Little Robert":

    1. Four chows in one suit, pair of any suit. (Smoothguide, UK)
    2. Chow in each suit, Pung and pair in different suits. (Hillsboro - Bahamas? Oregon USA?)
    3. Three mixed chows, a pair of winds and a pong in dragons or vice versa. (spela.online, Sweden)
    4. Chow, 1 each suit - 1 P and 1pr (no W or D) (Freeport, Grand Bahamas)

    Anne, since you are not asking about using a discard to expose a chow, you must be asking about "knitted" or "mixed" chows. And as I already explained above, you can claim a discard only for a normal chow, a normal pung, a kong, or for mah-jongg. But to get to MY question for YOU, Anne:

    What book or website are you using for your guide to this style of mah-jongg? Where on earth did you find "Little Robert" described? And how does your guide describe Little Robert? Also, I would love to see your guide, so I can see if it is a suitable guide for you. I suspect it is not suitable (since it does not mention what discards may be used for). I recommend you get either Thompson & Maloney's "The Game of Mah Jong Illustrated," or the Strauser & Evens (& Sloper) book, "Mah Jong, Anyone?" Neither book describes Little Robert, but you can always adopt any special hands you want (see FAQ 14, 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 Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 29, 2017


    A discard was misnamed, part 3

    >From: "judyr
    >Sent: Friday, October 27, 2017 9:58 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mahj Jongg question....
    >Tom, I think you misread my account. It was a tournament. Someone threw a flower, but said white dragon. Another individual called mahj on the white dragon....but...it was a flower! The judges awarded the mahj anyway. Meaning the judges counted the flower as a white dragon!! Reading the rule on the back of the card makes this incorrect. The tile discarded must be identified correctly for there to be a mahj or an exposure. Right?

    Good morning, Judy.

    Tom, I think you misread my account. It was a tournament. Someone threw a flower, but said white dragon. Another individual called mahj on the white dragon....but...it was a flower!
    Yes. You were clear on this in your first email. Sorry about my first response, in which I hadn't noticed that this was a tournament.

    The judges awarded the mahj anyway. Meaning the judges counted the flower as a white dragon!!
    No. It means the judges awarded mah-jongg based on what the discarder said. The judges did this because in the circumstance of a misnamed ("miscalled") discard for mah-jongg, this is what the rule says.

    Reading the rule on the back of the card makes this incorrect.
    You're talking about only the first two sentences: "MISCALLED TILE: A tile cannot be claimed until correctly named. Correctly named tile may then be called for an Exposure or Mah Jongg." I think you didn't read the third and fourth sentences of the paragraph on the card. (I will address the difference in meaning between those sentences; bear with me.)

    The tile discarded must be identified correctly for there to be a mahj or an exposure. Right?
    Read the third sentence: "HOWEVER, if Mah Jongg is called with the incorrectly named tile, the game ceases."

    Let me paint two scenarios to illustrate the difference between the meaning of the first sentence and the second sentence.

    I am waiting for a flower to complete my hand. Another player discards a flower (I can see that it's a flower) but she says "white." I cannot call it, because it has not been correctly named. But none of the other players is looking, and nobody realizes she misnamed the tile - and another player is reaching for the wall! What should I do? I should do what I always do when someone misnames a tile - I talk to her: "That's not a white dragon." When she says "flower," then I can say "mah-jongg."
    That is the meaning of the first and second sentences. "MISCALLED TILE: A tile cannot be claimed until correctly named. Correctly named tile may then be called for an Exposure or Mah Jongg."

    I am waiting for a white dragon to complete my hand. Another player discards a flower and names it "white," but I am not looking - only listening. I say "mah-jongg!" Oopsie! What's supposed to happen now? The rule says I win, even though what she discarded was really a flower. The rule says, "HOWEVER, if Mah Jongg is called with the incorrectly named tile, the game ceases. Miscaller pays claimant four times the value of the hand. Others do not pay." When you see "HOWEVER," that means the previous sentence is void if the "however" circumstance exists.
    The judges ruled correctly.

    The thing that caused the brouhaha was that two people were waiting for mah-jongg, one waiting for the named tile and one for the tile actually discarded. I'm curious whether the dissenters were unanimous in what they thought the judges should have done. I'll bet some were of one opinion, and others were of a second opinion. I'll bet there wasn't unanimity.
    Did everyone think that the player who was waiting for the flower (the tile actually discarded) should have won, despite the third sentence? I highly doubt that it was unanimous (everyone in the tournament, not counting the judges and the player who wanted soap). I take it that's what you believe, and that there were others who agreed with you.
    Or did everyone think both players (the flower winner and the soap winner) should have won? Having two players win is not supported by the American rules. I doubt there was a unanimous vote on this side.

    It comes down to the fact that an error occurred. The misnamer deserved to be penalized for giving mah-jongg in the course of making an error. The player who wanted the named tile deserved the win, because that's what the rules say. The rule governing her claim follows the word "HOWEVER" on the card, meaning her claim takes precedence over the player who wanted the tile that was actually discarded.
    The judges ruled correctly.

    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 28, 2017


    A discard was misnamed, part 2

    Judy, I just now re-read the below, and found something I'd missed before when I first read your question. I hadn't noticed that this happened in a tournament. I have a couple of thoughts about that.
    A tournament judge has to make a ruling on the spot, and in the case of American mah-jongg tournaments, there may or may not be a second or third judge to consult with. In international tournaments (Chinese or Japanese mah-jongg), it does sometimes happen that judges might rethink an earlier ruling (but it has to happen during the tournament, which in American mah-jongg is usually a one-day event). But in essence, a judge's ruling is what it is, and the players have to abide by it. It sounds like there was mass dissension at your event, and that's unusual and unfortunate.
    Your judge ruled based on the rules given in the NMJL rulebook, on page 17 (rule 6) and restated on the back of the NMJL card. It sounds to me like the mass dissension at your event was from people who have not read the rulebook or the back of the card.
    I don't know what the majority of dissenters at the tournament thought the judge should have done - in a tournament, wins are scored with points, rather than coins. Did your dissenters think the flower caller should have been given the win? Did nobody think that might be unfair to the player who heard "white" and needed white to win? Did your dissenters think both callers should have been awarded the win? Was there universal agreement on the preferred alternate ruling? That would have required a deviation from the official rules, and an unusually difficult decision for a judge who was backed up by an existing printed rule from the National League. Any ruling other than the printed ruling on the back of the card and in the rulebook would have been most unusual.
    My apologies for not noticing before that you said this happened in a tournament. My answer would have been worded slightly differently if I hadn't been hasty in my reading of the question.
    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 27, 2017 9:33 PM


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

    >From: "judyr
    >Sent: Friday, October 27, 2017 4:30 PM
    >Subject: Mahj Jongg question....
    >Major battle over this one! An individual threw a tile and said "white dragon" (it was really a flower) and another individual called mahj on the white dragon, that was really a flower! What happens? Another individual would have had mahj on the tile that was actually thrown which was a flower. It was a tournament and the individual was awarded mahj on the erroneous white dragon, that wasn't a white dragon at all, but a flower. I don't this is right.....I think the other individual that needed the flower for mahj should have been awarded mahj. What's right? Judy R

    Hi, Judy.
    It's a shame that your group got into a "major battle" over something that could have been settled very quickly and easily by simply having the official rulebook handy - or turning over the card and reading the rule on the back.


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    Every table should have a copy!


    Every player should read the back of the NMJL card every year.
    Many frequently asked questions are answered on the card.

    And of course, you could also find the rule here on my website, in the Frequently Asked questions (link above left). You want FAQ 19-AY.
    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 27, 2017


    I live near you, part 2

    >From: "mls88888
    >Sent: Friday, October 27, 2017 9:50 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mahjong
    >Will do. Thanks much!

    You're welcome!


    Can I call myself dead? (FAQ 19-AC) - Can a joker be redeemed from a dead player's rack? (FAQ 19-P)

    >From: Rose V
    >Sent: Friday, October 27, 2017 6:10 AM
    >Subject: 10-17-17 Question about dead hand
    >Hi Tom,
    >I am a beginner and this is what occurred: I had 3 exposures on my rack when I realized that I had only 12 tiles in my rack. I declared my hand dead. The question is: Can the other players take/replace the jokers in my my exposures that were called before I declared my hand dead? We have some area of disagreement so please help us solve this problem.
    >Rosed V.

    Hi, Rose! Welcome to my website! In addition to this Q&A board and my column, another thing available here on my site is the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions about American mah-jongg in FAQ 19. You can link to the FAQs above left. You think you've asked one FAQ, but actually there's another FAQ contained in what you wrote:

    I declared my hand dead.
    But are you allowed to do that?? Read FAQ 19-AC.

    Can the other players take/replace the jokers in my exposures that were called before I declared my hand dead?
    First you have to figure out when your hand went dead. To have only 12 tiles in your hand when making an exposure, you must have (1) forgotten to take your last tile during the deal and discarded without first picking, or (2) twice discarded without picking. If #1 is what happened, then you've been dead the whole time but didn't know it. If #2 is what happened, then you've been dead since the first time you discarded without picking. If you don't know which one happened, then you should assume you've been dead the whole time. Then, read FAQ 19-P - you'll find the answer to your question there (now that you know when you went dead).

    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. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. 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 Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 27, 2017


    I live near you - surely you know many players and games that are in need of players here in our area?

    >From: "mls88888aol.com
    >Sent: Thursday, October 26, 2017 8:27 PM
    >Subject: Mahjong
    >Hello,
    >I live in Santa Monica and am looking to find people to play with. Since you teach and surely know many players, thought you might know of some games in need of players--or even to sub in from time to time?
    >I am happy to travel ... to West L.A. or Beverly Hills or ...
    >Thanks much,
    >Margery

    Hi, Margery!
    Yeah, that's a logical thought, but no. I do know players in the area, but I don't know of any games looking for players, and I don't like playing matchmaker (giving you those players' contact info, or giving your contact info to everyone I know in the area) - so the best I can do is post your request on my Find Players Bulletin Board. Locals who know me know that I have these bulletin boards, and maybe somebody who needs a player will see this conversation and email you. And I highly recommend that you go on the Find Players Bulletin Board and look for posts from local players there. You can search the page for neighborhood names or zip codes. That really is the best I can do.
    Good luck finding some games!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 27, 2017


    What if the winner picked up the wrong discard by mistake, part 4

    >From: "linda z
    >Sent: Friday, October 27, 2017 6:16 AM
    >Subject: Carla and Joan's game
    >Hi Tom,
    >I am glad I do not play MJ with this group! If a simple error such as Joan's occurs and is easily rectified we let it slide. (Look at your example in your tournament!) Right now we have new players and we point out the rule she has broken and allow her to correct it. If an experienced player breaks a rule we enforce it by acclaim--if the other players want to excuse a minor error we all let it slide. We have one lady with early dementia and we're pretty gentle with her. This attitude evolved from us wanting to enjoy each other's company and chat and laugh a little while we play. My former group played for money and they were a little more strict about enforcing the rules. I wonder if that was the case with Joan? My philosophy is: it's only a casual game, and is it worth $1 to be so petty? Rules are important but so is harmony and friendliness in the group (and in life!) I'd like your opinion.
    >Thanks, Linda

    Thanks, Linda. I have already stated my opinion. Since you clearly agree with me, then ipso facto I agree with you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 27, 2017


    What does "concealed" mean?

    >From: Doris
    >Sent: Thursday, October 26, 2017 6:21 AM
    >Subject: Question about a concealed hand
    >Do you just use tiles you drew and not use tiles from the discards of others?

    Yes, Doris. The last tile is the exception. With a concealed hand, you are allowed to take the winning tile from someone's discard, but all the tiles up to that point must be self-picked. Read FAQ 19-AQ. You can link to the FAQs above left - and all of the most frequently-asked questions about mah-jongg are answered in FAQ 19. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. Please always check the FAQs to see if your question is already answered, before asking a question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 26, 2017


    Chinese writing, part 3

    >From: heaton.ray
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 11:19 PM
    >Subject: Nancy P and her Chinese characters
    >Hi Tom,
    >The character you are unable to read [October 22, below] is 彂, which is pronounced "Fa" meaning "to issue".
    >I'm not surprised it was a struggle to read, but it may have been easier if the more common way of writing it had been used, as the character 彂 is equivalent to 發, often seen on mahjong tiles...part of "facai", to get rich! (See Faq7e regarding the Green Dragon tile, and the differing ways this can be pronounced).
    >I expect that the two characters together on the plaque (i.e. with the correctly identified 東, "dong", East) is a company name rather than a place name. 東彂, Dongfa.
    >Jumping to a different conclusion with no supporting evidence (!) I could suggest the meaning is a bit more tangential, "Shanghai and the East are getting rich", but that's a stretch!
    >Regards
    >Ray

    My hat's off to you, Ray! (Not that I wear a hat, much less a top hat, while working at my computer...)
    You have come through again! I didn't know about this other way of writing fa (). So, reading right to left and top to bottom, "Shanghai Dongfa." Cheers!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 26, 2017


    Your future speaking engagements?

    >From: Merrill V
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 24, 2017 12:16 PM
    >Subject: Irvine talk
    >In your column #690, you wrote about doing a talk in Irvine, Ca. I live in South Orange County and would have loved to have my Mah Jongg club come to hear you.
    >How do I find out about your speaking engagements? Is there a 'list' I can get on for future events?
    >I really enjoy your columns. I try to read one each week before going into my Maj game... gives me a boost!
    >Thanks so much,
    >Merrill V

    Hi, Merrill!
    Here's the list of my future speaking engagements: . Did you blink? I don't have a list of future engagements. I do have a class beginning at AJU this Friday but that's a long way from South OC, and you don't sound like you need a beginner class. I'm glad you enjoy my columns. I'm sorry they can't be more regular. May the tiles be with you!
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 24, 2017


    What if the winner picked up the wrong discard by mistake, part 3

    >From: Pat L
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 24, 2017 10:45 AM
    >Subject: Joan's question
    >Hi, just wanted to respond to Joan's question. I was in that game. It is a rule that you must play with the tile you picked up. We felt, after reading your response, that you thought we were just being mean but we were just following the rules. We try to do that because if you let it slide one time and not the next then you eventually have a problem but if you play by the rules properly, it should be OK. Joan declared mah Jong, picked up the tile and put it on her rack and exposed the rest of her tiles. We always check the Mah Jongg hand. While checking her hand to determine correctness the error was discovered. She was declared dead because that is the rule. We weren't vindictive or mean, you can't let a rule slide for one person and not the next. We play together all the time and if you let rules slide, slide, then pretty soon you won't have rules. Thanks, Carla C

    Hi, Carla.
    I'm very glad to hear from the other side of Joan K's story. Really! I'd like to address your points:

    It is a rule that you must play with the tile you picked up.
    I agree with the concept in general, but let's be clear on this. The only hard-and-fast rules from the National Mah Jongg League exist in writing, either in the official rulebook or in a yearly newsletter.


    The official rulebook, and a newsletter/bulletin.
    Every year, the League issues rule clarifications
    in its newsletter. Every person who buys the card
    directly from the League receives a subscription
    to the newsletter, which is mailed every January.

    Unless I am mistaken (and I often am), there is no written rule that specifically says that a player must "play with the tile she picked up," including a mah-jongg declaration play. (If you can cite the rule from the League, I'll abide by it.) There is, however, a general principle about plays to which a player commits, based on physical movements of a tile. That principle is implied by certain rulings issued in newsletters, in response to frequently asked "change of heart" questions. The League has ruled definitively that when (a) picking a tile from the wall, (b) calling a discard, or (c) discarding a tile, the player must (as you have stated it), "play with the tile she picked up." But I have never seen a written rule that governs the specific case Joan K asked about - picking up the wrong tile in the course of a mah-jongg declaration.

    You're talking about a principle one can glean from other rules, but I've also gleaned another principle from other rules - "mah-jongg trumps everything." In your incident, everyone immediately recognized that Joan had simply picked up the wrong tile when displaying her hand. It's a simple matter to just let her correct her error at that moment.

    I committed a roughly similar error to Joan's at the 2017 WRC in Las Vegas two weeks ago. It was a world competition for Japanese riichi/dora majan. The elimination rounds had been completed, and the top 32 players had already been selected for the final round, to be shown on television in Japan - the remaining players were still playing with one another, for points (for their international standings). I was just a seat-filler at that point (I was a guest, not a full participant, in this world-class event). I declared mah-jongg on a discard, but the way I did it initiated a conversation. I did it the way shown at the top in this illustration:

    The taken discard is shown sideways. You see that I took the discarded 2-crak and used it to complete my pair (upper hand). The problem was, based on the rules of Japanese mah-jongg, I should have used the discarded 2-crak to instead complete the 2-3-4 chow (lower hand), because the low-scoring "pinfu" hand must be a two-way wait, not a one-way wait, to qualify as a valid mah-jongg declaration. I was waiting for either a 2-crak or a 5-crak, to complete the incomplete 3-4 combination at either end. Using it to complete the pair would be a single wait, not a 2-way wait.

    I made a mistake similar to Joan's, in other words. And this was an international competition, in which the other players were scoring their hands for international ranking records. Do you know what they did? They could have said that my mistake was "chombo" (a fatal error), but they didn't. They patiently and kindly reminded me of the rule, and let me simply move the 2-crak over to the chow and end the hand.

    The rules of Japanese mah-jongg are very detailed, much more so than the rules of American mah-jongg. If the international players could overlook a simple mistake like mine, in a high-profile televised competition, then your group could overlook Joan's simple easily-rectified error in a private friendly home game.

    We always check the Mah Jongg hand.
    Good! That's exactly what you should do! I wish every group always did that, too.

    She was declared dead because that is the rule.
    That's your rule - it's not in writing anywhere.

    if you let rules slide, slide, then pretty soon you won't have rules.
    I agree. But in this case the rule is inferred from a general principle that applies to lesser cases (picking a tile from the wall, calling a discard, discarding a tile) -- not to a mahj declaration. And this was a friendly game, not a high-stakes competition. And even if it was a competition, who knows how an impartial judge would have ruled on it?

    If you show a written ruling from the League that backs up your interpretation, I'll accept it. But I think your group was overly strict in your interpretation. Sorry if I made it sound like you were being mean, or vindictive - but I do think you were overly strict.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 24, 2017


    Chinese writing on my box, part 2

    >From: Nancy P
    >Sent: Monday, October 23, 2017 10:36 AM
    >Subject: Re: Chinese characters on Mah Jong Box
    >Thanks so much!!!! That is very helpful. I am glad I could locate some of the answer. (Those were the easy ones - ha ha) - YOurs were the difficult ones!
    >Yes - I was thinking that other mark might be a locality in Shang Hai. There are a LOT of them!
    >N.K. P
    >Greensboro, NC

    That's just a guess, Nancy! Maybe another reader (I have one in mind) will be able to decipher it.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 23, 2017


    Chinese writing on my box

    >From: Nancy P
    >Sent: Sunday, October 22, 2017 8:24 PM
    >Subject: Chinese characters on Mah Jong Box
    >I believe I have the two on the right side - the top is shang (as in Shang Hai - or just meaning above). The bottom appears to be "east" - I do not know the the actual Chinese word. The two on the left - I have looked and looked and cannot match them - but I have no background whatsoever.
    >Can you help?
    >I am also interested in finding a sliding front piece for my wood box. It is quite nice - just missing that one piece.
    >Thank you!
    >N.K. P
    >Greensboro, NC

    Hi, Nancy!
    The top two characters are indeed "Shanghai." The character at the right center is indeed "East" (pronounced "dong"). The one on the left center, though, I can't decipher. I think it's 14 strokes, but I couldn't recognize it on MandarinTools (I also tried 13 strokes and 15 strokes). I imagine it'll turn out to be the name of a company, or a village or neighborhood in or near Shanghai.
    By the way, in the other photo, I see you have four poker dice with the set. I've always told people that they can take those out (that they do not belong with the set). But I've seen so many sets with poker dice included that I have to wonder. It doesn't make sense that they would be put in originally in China, though (poker dice are plastic, likely manufactured in America) - Perhaps American distributors or stores put them in? That, too, seems unlikely.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 22, 2017


    What if the winner picked up the wrong discard by mistake, part 2

    >From: Joan K
    >Sent: Sunday, October 22, 2017 7:57 AM
    >Subject: Re: Man Jongg rule
    >Mr Sloper I am very bad with computers so am sending answers to questions this way and I do appreciate your responses: answers to questions: a. Yes it was discovered as soon as I picked it up. B no. c: no D: casual game.
    >Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Joan!
    Okay, that's a lot of helpful information. I understand now that this incident happened to you (that you were the one who was called dead) and it happened in a casual game, when you picked up the wrong tile in the course of a mahj declaration.
    Your other players were unnecessarily harsh, in my opinion. They could have simply let you replace the tile with the correct tile, and given you the win. Of course, it's too late to go back and ask to be paid now.
    I have to wonder if perhaps something else is going on with your group that would cause such a strict response.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 22, 2017


    What is this practice called, part 2

    >From: "moore08moore
    >Sent: Saturday, October 21, 2017 3:51 PM
    >Subject: Re: Imagine this questions about mah-jongg
    >Thanks for the response. But where are the rules for this particular type of play in MahJong? Do we go ahead with The Charleston etc. etc.???
    >Sent by CM

    Carolyn, you're making up your own rules, so I can't tell you what your rules are! I recommend you build walls and buy a rulebook. If you use the National Mah Jongg League card, you should buy the League's official rulebook, "Mah Jongg Made Easy." You can get it from the nationalmahjonggleague.org website. Or you can buy my book, "The Red Dragon and The West Wind," which also describes the League's rules (as well as the official Chinese rules). If you want to continue playing without building walls, read FAQ 14. 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 Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 21, 2017


    Discrepancy between FAQ 19 and RDWW

    >From: Ellen F
    >Sent: Saturday, October 21, 2017 1:57 PM
    >Subject: Discrepancy on your website re Erroneous exposure
    >Hi Tom,
    >I’m a big fan of yours and thought you might want to know about a discrepancy I detected concerning whether or not an exposure tile can be retracted. An issue regarding erroneous exposure occurred at my game recently. So, I checked Red Dragon West Wind and found this answer:
    >
    >As long as the player has not yet exposed tiles from her hand, she may retract her verbal call for the current discard. Calling for a discard, picking it up, and even racking it (putting it atop the flat portion of her rack) are all retractable actions, with no penalty. If she exposes tiles from her hand, though, she commits to making the exposure. She must take the discard and expose tiles from her hand, even if doing so results in her hand going dead.
    >
    >However, on sloperama.com, I saw this:
    >
    >A: 2. Calling a discard, either for an exposure or for mah-jongg. You can touch it or move it and change your mind. But once you have either placed the taken discard atop the rack or exposed tiles from your hand, you have committed to making the play (then you have crossed the line, and you may not backtrack - it's too late).
    >
    >So, I would appreciate your clarification on this issue.
    >Thank you,
    >Ellen

    Sharp eye, Ellen!
    This rule is on 3 places in the book: page 53 (rule 60.c), page 65 (rule 111), and page 97 (which is where you found it).
    Since the book was written ten years ago, I have not been able to make corrections appear in it. So what I have done instead is make the errata available for download here (actually, here). As I explained in the errata (rule 60.c), I misconstrued a rule given in a yearly newsletter. The January 2007 newsletter clarified it (after I'd submitted the final draft to the publisher), and since I wasn't able to make the book change, I have put the correct rule here in FAQ 19 (and in the errata). Putting the taken discard atop one's rack commits the player to the exposure.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 21, 2017


    What is this practice called?

    >From: "moore08moore
    >Sent: Saturday, October 21, 2017 1:42 PM
    >Subject: Imagine this questions about mah-jongg
    >Hi Tom, I have been enjoying your site and learning lots of new things thank you. I am chairman of a mah-jongg group here locally but have only been playing for about two years. So questions still arise.
    >What is it called when you are playing with no walls all tiles on the table and you draw from the table your tiles?
    >Trying to fill in the blank’s. Thank you again
    >Carolyn
    >Sent by CM

    Hi, Carolyn!
    That practice doesn't have a name. I use it the first day of teaching a new group of utter novices, but it's not recommended for regular play since it enables cheating. What to call it? How about these:
    Piles o' tiles;
    Up against the wall... you know, the one that doesn't exist!
    Men build too many walls and not enough bridges (Joseph Fort Newton);
    Balls to the wall (which refers to fighter plane controls pushed all the way forward - probably not whatever you were thinking) (but except for the dots, there aren't any balls in mah-jongg);
    The No Wall of China;
    Building walls? Who's got time for that?
    Call it whatever you want, Carolyn!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 21, 2017


    When a second lemming leaps off the cliff, is she dead?

    >From: "mamzs
    >Sent: Saturday, October 21, 2017 7:06 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    >Someone declared Mah Jongg then exposed her hand and it was a wrong call. She did not have Mah Jongg. We told her that she was dead.
    >I did not expose my hand but the woman across from me had 4 three bams and 4 one bams already exposed and then she exposed her 3 five bams
    > showing us that all she needed for Mah Jongg was one more five bam. She did not expose her two flowers. I told her that she was dead for
    > exposing the five bams. She said that because she did not expose the flowers that she was not dead.
    >Who was right?
    >Would appreciate hearing from you.
    >Marilyn S

    You were right, Marilyn. Like a lemming*, your opposite had lept off the cliff right behind the erroneous winner. You are now in a two-player game but all four will pay the winner.

    * No insult intended to your opposite. I have long used the lemmings analogy for this sort of situation. It's in FAQ 19-BW and I also used it last Friday, the thirteenth, in "What if three players go dead, part 2," in response to a question From: Cheryl S (below).  Your opposite can't simply expose a set from her hand - she clearly did it during the traditional "Kvetching Time" that follows immediately after a mahj declaration (and before the traditional "Who threw that" and "How much do I owe"),** and she was wrong to do so. She is dead.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 21, 2017

    ** I was speaking ironically/facetiously when I called these practices "traditional." The proper and correct sequence is: first, all players verify the validity of the winning hand and actually listen as the winner says how much each player owes, then all players pay the winner, before displaying their own kvetch-worthy situations or destroying the wall. - Tom


    What if the winner picked up the wrong discard by mistake?

    >From: Joan K
    >Sent: Friday, October 20, 2017 8:33 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:if you call a tile for mah Jongg and accidentally pick up the tile next to it by mistake are you out and the game continues even though the correct tile was thrown?

    Hi, Joan!
    Interesting question. I'm going to need more information about this mistake. I assume this actually happened to someone in your group.

    Was the mistake noticed immediately, before anything else happened? I mean, when the player said "mahj" and displayed her hand with the wrong tile, did someone immediately say "you picked up the wrong tile"?
    Or was the mistake noticed later, after another player had thrown in her hand, or destroyed the wall to find out where her winning tile was?
    Or was the mistake noticed and spoken only after the players had paid the winner?

    Also: did this happen in a casual game, or did it happen in a tournament?

    I think the circumstances are crucial to the answer, so I must decline to answer until I know more. A principle that could govern this may be hinted at in a yearly NMJL newsletter ruling, or it may be necessary to fall back on "Philosophy #5" in FAQ 9 (above left) since this particular odd mistake was not anticipated by the writers of the official rulebook.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 21, 2017


    Did they know what they were doing?

    >From: Margie G
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 4:31 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks so much for answering my question! I started playing Mahj in Cleveland, a year or so ago. I just came from Florida, where my Mom played with different rules like discarding before picking a tile, which frankly makes no sense to me. They also play with 14 tiles. The whole thing seemed strange to me.
    >Did they know what they were doing???
    >Thanks ahead for your clarification of this confusion.
    >Gratefully,
    >Margie

    Hi, Margie!
    "Did they know what they were doing?" I'm guessing yes. I'm guessing they know that they play with a "future tile" (also known as "picking ahead" and "playing with 14 tiles"). If you look on my Find Players bulletin board and search for the number 14 (or the words "fourteen" or "future") you'll find a lot of other players who also know what they are doing.
    If you want more information on the way those folks play, you can read FAQ 19-R and FAQ 19-BQ (and FAQ 14). I wrote about it on page 121 in my book, too. 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 Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 18, 2017


    Joker exchange etiquette

    >From: "ssndvdsn
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 1:36 PM
    >Subject: Joker Exchange Etiquette
    >Tom,
    >I know this is not a rule, but I consider it good etiquette to ask for someone's joker when making an exchange rather than touching their rack and making the exchange yourself. Do you agree?
    >Thank you,
    >Susan

    Yes, Susan. That's what I wrote in FAQs 19-M and 19-CF. 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 Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 17, 2017


    Creative accounting practices (Frequently Asked Question 19-BH)

    >From: Jan H
    >Sent: Saturday, October 14, 2017 6:23 AM
    >Subject: Is Zero a Number?
    >If zero is a "number" which comes before one ... is it appropriate to play
    >3 white dragons, 4 (1 dots), 3 (of another suit), and 4 (of same suit as previous 3) in the second consecutive run hand on the 2017 National League Card?
    >And/or -- do the 4 (following the white dragons) have to be dots making it possible to play
    >3 white dragons, 4 (1 of any suit), 3 (of another suit), and 4 (of same suit as the previous 3) a possible hand?
    >Thanks for your attention ...
    >Jan

    Good morning, Jan!
    Welcome to my website! You asked:

    If zero is a "number" which comes before one ... is it appropriate to play
    >3 white dragons, 4 (1 dots), 3 (of another suit), and 4 (of same suit as previous 3) in the second consecutive run hand on the 2017 National League Card?
    You are not the first to ask this question. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an "FAQ"). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to this particular question: Please read 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. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer (your question is in the section of questions about THE CARD), or you can search the page for keywords (in this case, the word "zero"). 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!

    do the 4 (following the white dragons) have to be dots making it possible to play
    >3 white dragons, 4 (1 of any suit), 3 (of another suit), and 4 (of same suit as the previous 3) a possible hand?
    You're asking if white dragons are still associated with dots when used as zeroes. That question is answered in red text at the top of your NMJL card. You should read everything on the card.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 14, 2017


    What if three players go dead, part 2

    >From: Cheryl S
    >Sent: Friday, October 13, 2017 5:00 PM
    >Subject: Re: American Mahjong question
    >Thank you. I did read it before I sent the email, but was confused because of how we went dead. On the back of the card there were 3 points in this regard, but it seemed to differentiate between an exposure on a concealed hand and in calling Mahj incorrectly. It says: If more than one player, other than erring declarer, exposes part or all of the hand, game cannot continue. Erring player plays double...
    >Do both erring declarers owe double?
    >The way I interpret your column[sic]* is that no money is paid by any of the three. Correct?

      Q: What if three players go dead? Who pays the survivor?
      A: It depends on how the players went dead. If one player erroneously declared mah-jongg, which caused a cascading lemminglike leap to death (in which two other players throw their hands in before it's realized that the mah-jongg was improper), then the erring declarer (who initiated the cascade) pays the surviving player twice the value of the declarer's hand (the hand she thought she was making).
      If the three players went dead by any other means, then the survivor throws in her hand (nobody gets paid). Shuffle, deal (next dealer takes over), and play another hand.

    Hi again, Cheryl. You wrote:

    I did read it before I sent the email, but was confused because of how we went dead. On the back of the card there were 3 points in this regard, but it seemed to differentiate between an exposure on a concealed hand and in calling Mahj incorrectly. It says: If more than one player, other than erring declarer, exposes part or all of the hand, game cannot continue. Erring player plays double...
    That's what I was talking about in the first part of FAQ 19-BW (the part not underlined above). That quote from the card is talking about a cascading error. What do I mean by a cascading error? This: one player declares maj incorrectly, which causes other players to start kvetching (showing their tiles or throwing in their tiles). That's what I referred to as a "lemminglike leap to death."

    That is not what happened in your case (not the way I read your previous email).

    Erring player plays double...
    >Do both erring declarers owe double?
    That quote from the card is talking about a cascading error. One player declares maj incorrectly, which causes other players to start kvetching (showing their tiles or throwing in their tiles). The "erring player" referred to is the first one, the player who declared maj incorrectly, causing the cascade of errors to follow afterwards.

    The way I interpret your column[sic]* is that no money is paid by any of the three. Correct?
    That's correct, Cheryl. After the first error, the other errors occurred independently of the first, and of one another (the way I read your previous email). So it's what I wrote about in the second part of FAQ 19-BW (the part I underlined above). The three players went dead by other means. So the game is null and void.

    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
    Friday the Thirteenth, October, 2017

    * That is an FAQ, not a column. - Tom


    Taking conflicting claims one step further, part 2

    >From: "ssndvdsn
    >Sent: Friday, October 13, 2017 3:03 PM
    >Subject: Re: Conflicting Claims
    >Thank you so much. I needed affirmation. Susan

    You got it!
    May the tiles be with you.


    What if three players go dead?

    >From: Cheryl S
    >Sent: Friday, October 13, 2017 1:43 PM
    >Subject: American Mahjong question
    >We all read the back of the card on this, but it still was unclear as to the payout. This all happened in one game.
    >Player A: Calls a tile and exposes 1 part of hand. Her hand is called dead for a exposing a concealed hand.
    >Player B: Declares Mahjong on a concealed hand after having exposed 1 part on a previous turn. Her hand is called dead.
    >Player C: Declares Mahjong, exposes hand and realizes it is not a Mahjong.
    >Player D: How much does each player owe Player D?
    >Do both players who declared Mahjong play double and the player who only incorrectly exposed pay single? Or does just the last screw-up player (me) pay double? I think we were all very tired this morning!
    >Thank you for your guidance,
    >Cheryl S
    >P.S. Love your column. I searched for this answer, but it is probably a rarity that 3 players mess up so badly.

    Hi, Cheryl!
    Funny. Three players all went dead, but in unrelated circumstances. Did you check FAQ 19 to read the frequently-asked question, "What if three players go dead?" I just looked there myself, but rather than tell you the answer, I'd rather you get used to finding your own answers in FAQ 19. Your question is FAQ 19-BW, which you can find it in the "You're dead" section, or you can do what I did, and search the page for the phrase "three players."
    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
    Friday the Thirteenth, October, 2017


    Taking conflicting claims one step further

    >From: "ssndvdsn
    >Sent: Friday, October 13, 2017 9:59 AM
    >Subject: Conflicting Claims
    >Tom: I know this question has been asked and answered, but I need to take it one step further. Suppose player #1 discards, then player #3 calls for the tile. Almost immediately, player #2 (next in line) calls for the tile. Neither player needs the tile for Mah Jongg. I know that player #3 would get the tile if he/she had exposed before player #2 called for the tile. In this case player #3 has not begun to expose. Lately I have played with a few people, not my regular group, who think that once two players call for the same tile, it then becomes a race to see which one can expose the quickest, therefore claiming the tile. Should player #3, upon hearing player #2 call for the tile, STOP and concede the tile to player #2. Also, what happens if player #3 does "hurry" and be the first to expose in order to claim the tile? Should that person be dead for playing out of turn? I look forward to your response. Susan

    Hi, Susan!
    You wrote:

    I know this question has been asked and answered, but I need to take it one step further.
    Interesting. Bring it on!

    Lately I have played with a few people, not my regular group, who think that once two players call for the same tile, it then becomes a race to see which one can expose the quickest, therefore claiming the tile.
    How obnoxious is that!?

    Should player #3, upon hearing player #2 call for the tile, STOP and concede the tile to player #2.
    Of course! Player 2 is first in line, and she's spoken her claim.

    The rule saying that an exposure trumps next-in-line's verbal claim only applies if next-in-line has not spoken by the time another player exposes.
    If P2 and P3 both say I want that, then P2 gets the tile (no matter who spoke first).
    If P3 exposes before P2 says I want that, then P3 gets the tile.
    If P2 says I want that before P3 exposes, P2 gets the tile.
    This is all explained in FAQ 19-H (using quotes from the NMJL's printed rulings). The rule about exposing first trumps the rule about next-in-line taking precedence, but it opens the door to un-harmonious behavior, which I think is a crying shame.

    Also, what happens if player #3 does "hurry" and be the first to expose in order to claim the tile? Should that person be dead for playing out of turn?
    No. She should give the taken discard to the rightful claimant. Game continues (albeit with players shooting dagger eyes at one another rather than playing harmoniously).

    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
    Friday the Thirteenth, October, 2017


    Is she disqualified for saying she was hooped?

    >From: Jane M
    >Sent: Thursday, October 12, 2017 1:30 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg question
    >My friend was playing the other day and in exasperation with here tiles she exclaimed "I am "hooped". Someone at the table said she was disqualified for saying that. Is that correct?
    >Thanks,
    >Jane M.

    Hi, Jane!
    First, I don't know what "hooped" means. I googled it and as far as I can tell, it might mean "I'm exhausted/tired."
    Second, let's assume for a moment it means "my tiles are no good, and I can never make mah-jongg," or in other words, "I'm dead" (in the sense that "dead" means "can never make mah-jongg").
    Third, let's assume that "disqualified" means "dead" (in the sense that "you have to stop playing," as per NMJL rules).
    Fourth, if "hooped" means "dead" and "disqualified" means "dead," are you asking "can a player be called dead for calling herself dead?" Because that doesn't really make a lot of sense.
    I guess I'm saying I don't really follow the scenario you painted for me. Perhaps you'll find your answer if you go to FAQ 19 and read the first four questions under the category "YOU'RE DEAD." You can link to FAQ 19 above left. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a mah-jongg 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 Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 12, 2017


    I say she can't change her exposure, part 7

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 8:46 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Regarding our discussion of August 27th on Pat L's question. The more I thought about the scenario, I agreed with your thoughts. The player called a tile but placed nonmatching tiles with it on her rack. Was she dead for a wrong exposure or was she allowed to take down the nonmatching tiles and put up the correct ones with the called tile?
    >So I wrote to the league and have a letter back. I am attaching it. Yes, she can remove and replace those tiles as long as she did not discard which would have ended her turn leaving her with an incorrect exposure.
    >Yay! You were absolutely correct (as usual)!!!!
    >Bee

    Great, Bee! Thanks for sharing that official ruling!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 11, 2017


    Who has to say a discard's correct name? (v3.0)

    >From: "BeachGirl5C
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 6:27 PM
    >Subject: Thanks Tom (miscalled tile)
    >I'm still getting familiar with your site. Love it! And so much to read!!
    >To answer your question about the Brouhaha...I play with a group who are pretty loose about following the rules. Normally, in this case, someone usually just speaks up, that it was miscalled by saying, "That was a one Bam" (All my references were using your Flower for one Bam example). It's worked fine and we all move on, except a couple weeks ago someone stated that it had to be the person who discarded it. I had asked Donna and she said no but when I played with this group again it was restated that it had to be the discarder and a 2nd and maybe a 3rd person agreed that it was in the NMJL rule book! At this point I just said I'd like to see it in writing.
    >Questioning other people I still get the answer it is not a written rule that it has to be the discarder. At some point Donna said "write to Tom Sloper". Not familiar with the procedure I passed but I didn't know Donna had actually written & gotten an answer. Sorry for being redundant. I do like the way you handle it & I will adopt that response myself.
    >>What I always say is "that's not a flower." Then I wait for the discarder to say its name. THEN, if I want that tile, I say "I'll take it."
    >Also we decided, as there is no penalty, who cares?!!
    >Love your answers, love your humor!! We don't have a bartender or a butler so quite certain that won't be a problem with 'who correctly names the tile'.
    >A couple more....
    >1) Should I have known somehow that you had answered this question for Donna on the bulletin? If it's not in your Q&A?
    >2) Is there any way to close the blue advertisement screen at the top of the page? It takes up half my screen.
    >Sorry if I should know these things. Feel like I need a 2 day class to learn to move around your site. As it is, I can get lost for hours and have learned so much!!
    >THANKS

    Hi, Bonnie! You wrote several things for me to reply to:

    I do like the way you handle it & I will adopt that response myself.
    >>What I always say is "that's not a flower." Then I wait for the discarder to say its name. THEN, if I want that tile, I say "I'll take it."
    >Also we decided, as there is no penalty, who cares?!!
    Sounds good to me!

    Should I have known somehow that you had answered this question for Donna on the bulletin?
    Well, there are a couple ways you could have*, but I'm not complaining!
    * (You might have played with Donna again and she might have told you - or you could have come to the bulletin board and scrolled down a little ways and stumbled on it, or you could have done a search on the page for the term "misnamed.")

    Is there any way to close the blue advertisement screen at the top of the page? It takes up half my screen.
    If you're talking about FAQ 19, there's a way to do that there. You can just click (with your mouse, if you're on a PC) or tap (with your finger, if you're on a mobile device with a touch screen) where it says  Mobile users: to display only this frame, touch here. Anytime you see that mobile phone icon, you can hit that to get rid of unwanted frames.
    Anyway, sorry about the layout - it was originally designed for desktop monitors (and that's what I mainly use myself), but when I figure a way to offer mobile-friendly features, I implement those (but I'm not a web wiz, so my repertoire of tricks is limited).

    Sorry if I should know these things. Feel like I need a 2 day class to learn to move around your site.
    Not to worry.

    As it is, I can get lost for hours and have learned so much!!
    Hope you enjoy, then!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 11, 2017


    Broken link

    >From: Kathleen
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 10, 2017 9:21 AM
    >Subject: Found a problem on Links page
    >Hi Tom,
    >I was checking your website when I notice that there’s a broken hyperlink on your Links page. I tried to click on it and am getting an “error message”, it seems that the site that you were linking to has moved.
    >I didn’t know if you wanted me to point it out to you to fix or remove, so if you do, just let me know.
    >Thanks,
    >Kathleen

    Kathleen, of course I want to fix broken links. But I can't remove it if you don't tell me what the link is, or the address of the Links page it's on. Is it a game career advice link? A mah-jongg link? A hanafuda link?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    10/10/2017


    I was the bettor and noticed the Mah Jongg was wrong.

    >From: Barbara M
    >Sent: Monday, October 9, 2017 3:42 PM
    >Subject: Bettor
    >One of the players called Mah Jongg. I was the bettor and noticed the Mah Jongg was wrong. I know the bettor is not supposed to say anything but no one noticed. Am I supposed to pay the (supposedly) winner when I know it’s wrong? So I said it was wrong and an argument was started. What should I have done?
    >Barbara M

    Hi, Barbara!
    The fact that an argument was started ought to tell you everything you need to know, shouldn't it?
    Read FAQ 19-W4. You can link to FAQ 19 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. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. 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 Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 9, 2017


    Do you have to call her dead or can you let it slide to keep her jokers alive?

    >From: pat l
    >Sent: Monday, October 9, 2017 1:42 PM
    >Subject: Maj Jongg and calling dead
    >Three 2 red cracks were exposed. The player picked up two 8 bams and exposed them with a joker. The players did not want to declare this player dead because they wanted a chance at the exposed joker. The hand was obviously dead because there was nothing to play with the exposures on the rack. Do you have to declare the person dead or can you let it ride?
    >I did read the "dead" part of your writings but saw no answer. Please let us hear your thoughts. Thank you,
    >Pat L

    Hi, Pat!
    Interesting. So the players like to exploit loopholes in the rules to gain an advantage. They know they should call the player dead, but that would make that joker go away and they know that the rule is unenforceable. I think that's downright sneaky and underhanded. In my opinion, if you know she's dead you should call her dead. They apparently don't realize that the advantage of having more tiles to pick may well outweigh the advantage of having her joker available for redemption by anyone (even by the rightfully-dead but nonetheless alive player).
    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 9, 2017


    Who has to say a discard's correct name? (v2.0)

    >From: "BeachGirl5C
    >Sent: Sunday, October 8, 2017 10:28 PM
    >Subject: Miscalled Tile
    >Hi Tom,
    >1) Is there a specific player who has to name a misnamed tile correctly?
    >Most often the person discarding is unaware they have miscalled the tile and someone else at the table corrects them (as in your 1 Bam/Flower example) but lately some ladies are telling me it has to be the person who discarded the tile. In checking your site and speaking with other people we can not find a NMJL rule that clearly states that it has to be the player who misnamed the discard. Could you please point out the NMJL rule that states that?
    >Misnamed discard. For instance, a player discards a One Bam but says "Flower." The rule is that the player must say the correct name of the tile she discarded (she does not have to discard a flower; the League has said this, in print, several times, in yearly newsletters).
    >What if someone wants the One Bam? After the discarder corrects her error and says "One Bam," the other player can claim the discard.
    >2) If the discarder does not correctly name the tile and I say "I call that One Bam" is there a penalty?
    >Thank you,
    >Bonnie

    Good morning, Bonnie! Your questions:

    Could you please point out the NMJL rule that states that [it has to be the person who discarded the tile]?
    The rules are written too loosely for my liking. The League has always just said that the game can't continue until the tile is correctly named (it does not actually say by whom). If my interpretation (that it has to be the discarder who says the tile's correct name) seems like an unreasonable leap to an unwarranted conclusion, then I'm sorry. In my opinion, it's reasonable to assume that the discarder should acknowledge her error. As I wrote in response to Donna last Friday (below).
    As far as I know, the League does not say anywhere in print that it must specifically be the discarder. But what's the big deal? If you're the misnaming discarder, just say the correct name and move on. If another player is the misnaming discarder and she refuses to say the correct name, then say it for her and move on.
    Again (as I wrote in response to Donna): I have to wonder what incident prompted this question. Did a discarder believe that she had in fact spoken the actual name of the discard, when another player believes she said the name of a different tile instead? Was there a disagreement as to either which tile was discarded, or what words had been uttered by the discarder?

    If the discarder does not correctly name the tile and I say "I call that One Bam" is there a penalty?
    There's no penalty to you for calling (requesting to take) a misnamed tile. But OF COURSE you can't take that One Bam to use as a One Bam if it's not a One Bam. And of course you can't make an exposure of flowers with a One Bam, or an exposure of One Bams with a flower. Your question is not precise as to the situation with this misnamed tile and your saying that it's a One Bam (I don't know what the discarder said the tile was).
    If the discarder named the tile "flower" and you say "I'll take that One Bam," then you're confusing everybody by NOT saying, "that's not a flower, it's a One Bam, and I'll take it." Is that what this brouhaha with you and Donna is all about?

    What I always say is "that's not a flower." Then I wait for the discarder to say its name. THEN, if I want that tile, I say "I'll take it."
    To me, a much more important matter than "who should say the tile's correct name" is "what penalty applies when an error occurs as a result of a misnamed discard." See FAQ 19-AY (which you quoted in your email).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 9, 2017


    Column 687, #3 (part 3)

    >From: Al D
    >Sent: Sunday, October 8, 2017 2:06 PM
    >Subject: Wrong answer
    >Hello,
    >Regarding FAQ 19 BJ.
    >I believe it has a wrong answer. It states: So there must be at least one natural in an exposed set. Not specifically stated in rulebook, but logical from accurate knowledge of the way the rules work.
    >**See FAQ 19-BJ.
    >I called the National Mahjongg league and was told a Pung, Kong, Quint or Sextet may be composed of all Jokers!
    >Jean

    Hi, Jean!
    I tricked you with the tricky wording of a quiz question, and the tricky use of two asterisked footnotes to the quiz answer key.

    You are not referring to FAQ 19-BJ (FAQ 19-BJ discusses "heavenly hand"). You are instead asking about Column 687, question 3. There is one asterisk on the answer to question 3, which refers to a footnote as follows:

      *You cannot claim a discarded joker - you can only claim a discarded natural. So there must be at least one natural in an exposed set. Not specifically stated in rulebook, but logical from accurate knowledge of the way the rules work.

    Question 8, however, has two asterisks, which refers to the footnote about FAQ 19-BJ. Question 8 is about a dealer who has a complete hand before passing any tiles in the Charleston. It's question 3 that talks about having an EXPOSED set of all jokers. Linda Z also wrote me about my answer to question 3, on September 1. I explained to her then:

      It says "in an exposed set" - it doesn't say "in an exposed hand" - I'll try again, with a picture. Here's what a player has exposed atop her rack:

      That's all she has atop her rack. No other tiles.

    Jean, if you say that a player can expose a pung or kong or quint of jokers, and no other tiles, then I challenge you to explain the series of events leading up to such an exposure.

    How is an exposure made? By taking another player's discard, and then placing other tiles beside it from one's own hand. BUT: what tile could have been discarded to initiate the cascade of actions resulting in an all-joker exposure? It could only be a joker... BUT it's illegal to call for and take a discarded joker. You can scroll down and see my conversation with Linda Z on September 1. Standing by for further discussion if necessary!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 8, 2017


    Appreciation too

    >From: Rebecca L
    >Sent: Sunday, October 8, 2017 1:31 PM
    >Subject: In Appreciation of your work!
    >Dear Mr Sloper,
    >I am a relatively new Mahjong player (2yrs )who is obsessed.
    >I have enjoyed your site so much and it has helped me enter Mahjong playing at a much higher level than most novices-(at least so I am told by people I play with)
    >I have been trying to help a non computer savvy friend to ID a set she was given and has been playing with that is missing the 3 crack.
    >It is a longer more interesting story but here is the gist.
    >All parties involved (beside myself) are Mahjong playing ladies in Queens, NY all over 90 years of age who I got to know this summer on the East coast.
    >My friend received a set given to her through a senior center contact. She thought it was new as it was /is in great condition.
    >However, as she described it to me, using information between your site and the mahjong,mahjong site, I believe it is an older possibly rare set.
    >I read your disclaimer that all emails sent are yours, and I looked through all the information links that you provide on your site (thank you) and I believe we have correctly identified the set. The gals can not believe folks would even pay a lot of money for a set- ; ) and really just want to get another 3 crak.
    >My friend was letting people take tiles to look for matches at flea markets. After speaking with her and doing some sleuthing-we have put an end to that -I told her the set must stay together!!!
    >I had her search the box( we don't live near ) and a tag fell out from under the case lining
    >The Label says:
    >Royal Imported Club
    >Hand Engraved-color fast
    >A&L manufacturing
    >But after sleuthing thru your site: I believe this is a Vintage Royal Imported Club N.Y. three colors hand engraved Mah Jong tiles.
    >It looks gorgeous to me through photos.
    >So I will use your find a tile page to try to get a new 3 crak for the ladies.
    >I want to thank you for your tremendous site!!!! as I work to help the “Golden Girls group(who are really quite brassy-as my friend says ) as they call themselves” another 3 crak.
    >This has been a fun detective story for us this summer.
    >In appreciation,
    >Rebecca L

    Hi, Rebecca! Thanks so much for writing. I hope you find a tile that rescues that lovely old set!
    May the tile literally be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 8, 2017


    Appreciation

    >From: Facebook
    >To: Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Saturday, October 7, 2017 8:43 PM
    >Subject: Martin Rep mentioned you in a comment in Mahjongnews.
    >Martin Rep October 7 at 8:42pm  
    >Tom has been SOOOO important for international mahjong. He helped a great deal in making MCR and riichi popular in many countries. Keep up the good work, Tom Sloper!!  
    >Like
    >Comment
    >View on Facebook
    >Edit Email Settings

    Thank you so much, Martin! I have been honored here at the WRC 2017 by so many players telling me they'd gotten their start in riichi/dora majan from my humble old website. It was gratifying to realize I'd had such an effect!
    You, too, Martin, are to be honored for creating MahjongNews and for hosting the first European Mahjong Championship in 2005. My hat's off to you, old friend.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
    October 8, 2017


    Who has to say a discard's correct name?

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Friday, October 6, 2017 8:47 PM
    >Subject: question
    >Tom hi,
    >Thank you for all of your expertise on your website. It's fabulous and we refer to it often to answer questions.
    >In your answer below AY, (where I highlighted) you say "the player" must say the correct name.
    > Misnamed discard. For instance, a player discards a One Bam but says "Flower." The rule is that the player must say the correct name of the tile she discarded (she does not have to discard a flower; the League has said this, in print, several times, in yearly newsletters).
    >I interpret that as meaning the "person who miscalls the tile" but in Mah Jongg Made Easy p. 17 #6, it just says, " a tile cannot be claimed until it is correctly named". Does it matter who names it? Thank you for your reply.
    >Donna E

    Hi, Donna!
    I believe it matters who names it. Absolutely it must be one of the players seated at the table playing the game. (It absolutely cannot be the butler or the bartender or the bettor.)
    I believe it is the discarder's responsibility to speak the tile's name. Another person might speak its name, but it is (in my opinion) a requirement that the discarder acknowledge the correctness of the speaker's words. Of course there might be exceptional situations - the discarder is mute and cannot speak, or the hostess's cat suddenly leaps up and grabs the discarder's tongue, preventing the discarder from uttering meaningful words, for instance. In those situations, it would not be unreasonable for another player to speak the correct name of the tile that was discarded, so that the game can continue properly.
    If you wish to have a more definitive ruling, you should send your question in writing to the League.
    I have to wonder what incident prompted this question. Did a discarder believe that she had in fact spoken the actual name of the discard, when another player believes she said the name of a different tile instead? Was there a disagreement as to either which tile was discarded, or what words had been uttered by the discarder? Because if the discarder acknowledges that she had said the name of a tile other than the one she'd actually discarded, then it seems to me that (now that all players know which tile was actually discarded) the game can continue with the mutual consent of all at the table.
    But if an error had occurred as a result of the misnaming, then there are rules governing what to do next.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 6, 2017


    How much time can be used by each player when taking her turn?

    >From: "rfoglio
    >Sent: Thursday, October 5, 2017 11:51 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:how much time can be used by each player when taking her turn?

    There's no rule, rfoglio. Are you asking because your group has a slow player? Or are you asking because your group has been complaining that you take too much time? Does your group focus on the game during play, or does your group chat while playing? Have you ever observed how long one game takes with your group? (Experienced players usually finish one game, one hand, in about 15 minutes.) Have you ever observed how much time normally transpires during a player's turn?

    Most of the time, a player's turn takes less than 2 seconds. Once in a while, a player looks at the tile she just picked from the wall and has to think for another second or two - and less frequently, a player faces a quandary and has to really think. It's polite to apologize to the group when thinking longer than 5 or 6 seconds (unless that's not an unusual turn length in your group). It's impolite to take more than 12 seconds during your turn, even if you did apologize... unless you play with a group that chats during play. Especially if you do it frequently. If all the players but one keep the game moving, and one constantly halts the game when it's her turn, then disharmony can result.

    If your group has a slow player, you should read columns 375 and 621. And read pages 109 and 110 in my book.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 6, 2017


    Wrong tile count, part 2

    >From: Veronica H
    >Sent: Thursday, October 5, 2017 4:51 PM
    >Subject: Clarification
    >Hate to bother you again, but what I was really looking for was a cut and dried, in black and white ruling on dead hands due to too many or too few tiles that I could print and hand out to my club members.
    >Simply that if a player has too many or too few tiles that player still picks and discards but the hand is dead and is no longer eligible to mah jongg (Chinese version) and player sits out and does not pick or draw (American version). I am assuming that this is correct?

    Yes, Veronica. For your players, "If a player has too many or too few tiles that player still picks and discards but the hand is dead and is no longer eligible to mah jongg," as you said. You should add that the dead player is forbidden to take any discards or to kong or take kong replacements.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 5, 2017


    Do I have to call myself dead?

    >From: Sandy W
    >Sent: Thursday, October 5, 2017 12:33 PM
    >Subject: Dead
    >If you know beyond doubt that your hand is dead, must you drop out of the game? Thanks

    Hi, Sandy!
    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. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-AC. 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. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. 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 Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 5, 2017


    Appreciation

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 4, 2017 7:54 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Joel E
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Joel E. You can view the transaction details online .
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Joel E
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal
    >Copyright © 1999-2017 PayPal, Inc. All rights reserved. PayPal is located at 2211 N. First St., San Jose, CA 95131.

    Thank you, Joel!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 2, 2017


    Wrong tile count, in modified Chinese rules.

    >From: Veronica H
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 4, 2017 11:46 AM
    >Subject: Chinese Mah Jongg Question
    >I believe in American MJ if a player has too many or too few tiles, the hand is declared dead and player sits out the rest of the hand without drawing or discarding tiles.
    >What is the ruling for this in Chinese MJ? We had a situation where a player did not get a replacement tile for her flower tile so she discovered a few plays later that after drawing she only had 13 tiles. We had established a rule that the player's hand is dead but the player would continue to pick and throw which would allow her to possibly get a kong or hidden kong but could not Mah Jongg.
    >There are some of our members who feel they should be able to receive another tile when it is discovered that she is short a tile. Question then becomes from where does she take this tile. From the garden wall or the regular wall? Also, for a player who has too many tiles, some feel that on their turn they should just not pick but just throw a tile to get back to the correct number of tiles in her hand.
    >I feel that the hand should be declared dead but the player should continue to play until game is finished with no possibility of having a mah jongg.
    >I have written to you before and mentioned that we play a modified version of Chinese mah jongg. As I am chairperson, I would like to have your opinion or ruling if there is one on this situation.
    >Thank you.

    Hi, Veronica! You asked:

    What is the ruling for this in Chinese MJ? … We had established a rule that the player's hand is dead but the player would continue to pick and throw which would allow her to possibly get a kong or hidden kong but could not Mah Jongg.
    Close. Very close. Except for the konging part. A "dead" player is required to pick and discard but may not make any exposures whatsoever, and may not call any discards.

    There are some of our members who feel they should be able to receive another tile when it is discovered that she is short a tile. Also, for a player who has too many tiles, some feel that on their turn they should just not pick but just throw a tile to get back to the correct number of tiles in her hand.
    So they want to play by kindergarten mah-jongg rules, not grown-up mah-jongg. What other "backsies" do those players want? How many more modifications are you willing to concede? This can be a slippery slope!

    we play a modified version of Chinese mah jongg. As I am chairperson, I would like to have your opinion or ruling if there is one on this situation.
    I'm giving you the ruling from MCR (Majiang Competition Rules). It's safe to assume this ruling applies in numerous other Chinese variants as well. I don't know what other modifications you have to the Chinese rules, but I'd go with the "grownup" rule, and not start adding an ever-expanding list of "backsies" forgivenesses. Mah-jongg is a game for grownups who can accept the consequences of their own mistakes.

    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 4, 2017


    You have been a great help, part 2

    >From: Linda L L
    >Sent: Sunday, October 1, 2017 8:31 PM
    >Subject: Re: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Linda L L
    >LOL - the main reasons are: I think you are doing something that is of value, something that helps a lot of people, and something that builds respect for the game and it's players!
    >Best of luck getting everything done on time. Thanks for telling me what happened with the weekly column. I was so surprised to see my last letter to you was still at the top of the column. Best, Linda

    Okay, good to know, Linda!
    By the way, THIS part of my website is not the "column." This is the "bulletin board." The Sloper On Mah-Jongg column is an entirely different thing. I try to update the column once a week when I can, and the topic is solely of my choosing. But this bulletin board is driven by reader emails. I usually reply to emails within hours, and post those exchanges here on the BB. So if nothing appeared here between Thursday and Sunday, it just means nobody wrote to me. The explanation I gave you an hour ago (below) is why there is no column this week, not why there were no new bulletin board posts since Thursday.
    You don't need to know about my obscure nomenclature for the various parts of my website, so if the previous paragraph bored you, then don't read it! :p
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 1, 2017


    You have been a great help more than once

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Sunday, October 1, 2017 6:27 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Linda L L
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$50.00 USD from Linda L L
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $50.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Linda L L
    >Message: Dear Tom, Making a donation today in appreciation for all you do for those of us who are part of the Mah Jongg world. You have been a great help to me more than once. May the tiles be with you! Linda
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Wow, thank you, Linda!
    I'm so glad my website has been of value to you. Unfortunately, my university teaching schedule is so crazy right now that I was not able to write a column this week. And next weekend I'll be focusing on a mah-jongg tournament (and hopefully not falling behind on preparations for midterms). So no column next week, either. Hopefully, the column isn't the only/main reason for your generosity! :p
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 1, 2017


    Looking for an older post? Just click the link below! Several times a year, older postings are archived so as to keep this bulletin board lean and quicker to load. The archive goes back several years, and it's real easy to access older questions and answers!

    WANNA SEE MORE MAH-JONGG Q&A?
    CLICK HERE to go back in time and read older Mah-Jongg Q&A postings!
    CLICK HERE to return to the present and see the latest Mah-Jongg Q&A postings!


      Color key


        • Green = a happy email from a grateful reader.
        • DarkBlue = an FAQ, a question that's been asked and answered frequently.
        • Purple = an unhappy email from a dissatisfied reader.
        • Red = a forbidden technical support question about a computer game. Or any question that makes ME unhappy.
        • Orange = an unusual, weird, or off-topic email.
        • Black = none of the above. Regular mah-jongg question or comment: one that is not an FAQ, neither happy nor unhappy.


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