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The Mah-Jongg FAQs
(Frequently Asked Questions)

19. American Mah-Jongg
16. The NMJL Card

1. "Mah-Jongg 101"
2a. Which MJ Rules To Learn?
2b. Which MJ Rules Do I Play?
3. Books on Mah-Jongg
  3b. 1920s Books
4a Selected Links
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7.
  7a. Types of Sets
  7b. Is It Complete?
  7c. What's It Made Of?
  -   7c2. Is It Ivory?
  -   7c3. One Word: Plastics
  7d. Bits And Pieces
  7e. "Mystery Tiles"
  7f. Playing Tables
  7g. How Old Is It?
  7h. How Much Is It Worth?
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  7m. Where To Buy (Asia)
  7n. Tips For Sellers
  7o. Cleaning & Restoring
  7p. "Tell Me Anything"
  7q. "I Need Blank Tiles!"
  7r. "I Need Jokers!"
  7s. Tiles 4 Sight-Impaired
  7t. DIY Joker Stickers
  7u. Manufacturers
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   11c. Who created MJ
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   11h. History timeline
12.
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   13d. I Dunno, I'm Just Starting
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25. Can't Win Japanese Majan
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The Mah Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    After you submit your comment or question, return to this board sometime later to see the response (below) - and keep coming back to see followup discussions.

    No shouting, please. Typing in all capital letters is considered "shouting." Nobody is allowed to shout here but me! (^_^) If your question or comment is typed in all capital letters, it will be converted to all lower case before being posted here with my reply.

    For reader enjoyment, humor is sometimes used in the responses that I give. Please don't be offended by a response given in the spirit of reader enlightenment and entertainment.

    Terms of service and privacy policy: The free service that I offer is limited to what you see here on this website. I answer questions submitted by email ONLY (I do not do telephone Q&A), and I never give free private answers. "When you email me, I own it." The price of the information I give is that it is given only in this public forum. Your email may be edited before posting.

    No information you provide through this website shall be deemed confidential. Emailing me with a question or comment on this topic constitutes your permission for your words to be made public. (Business inquiries and scholar/journalist queries are of course treated with all due confidentiality.) Your last name and email address will usually be omitted (exceptions: Find Players/Teachers posts, buyer/seller posts, and event organizer posts).

    The first time someone asks a question here, I send a reply email to let you know that you should come back and see your answer. If your email address is protected by a service that wants me to click a link and prove myself to be human, I don't click the link. You'll need to check back here to find your answer.

    This is an information exchange, not a social site. I'm not a programmer, and to keep spammers out, I had to go low-tech. Due to the actions of spammers, I had to remove the ability of visitors to post here without my involvement. As a result, all users' posts now have to go through me, and I when I post them, I omit email addresses (with exceptions as stated above). I learned from bad experiences that many (if not most) posters want their contact information to be kept private. Please do not ask to be put in touch with other people who've posted here, if their email addresses are not shown here. Please don't put me in that uncomfortable position.

    Please note that this site is NOT associated with the National Mah Jongg League. Although questions about the League's card and rules are welcome here, please read FAQ 16 and FAQ 19 to see if your question has already been answered. Also, you can click here to learn how to contact the NMJL directly.


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    Keep scrolling - the Q&A is below.





  • I need jokers

    >From: Margaret N
    >Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2014 6:26 PM
    >Subject: Getting extra tiles to make Jokers.
    >Dear Mr. Sloper,
    >I wonder if you can help me get extra tiles for my Mah Jongg set. My son, who happened to be traveling on business to Shanghai recently, and tired of his Mother telling him that she was learning to play the game, bought me a set of tiles, for my Birthday, which he purchased, I assume in Shanghai. It consists of only 144 tiles, and the two spare tiles are not of matching shape or color! There is no indication of where the set was made, although there is an instruction book in English, on how the play The Game of Four Winds! The tiles are thicker than those of the sets I have been learning on and my tiles are cream in color and with a sandy finish. Do you think I am on a "fools errand" in trying to get spare tiles? I would rather not confess this difficulty to my son as he went to considerable trouble to carry the set back to Germany, and then bring it here when he was on a three day trip last month. He lives permanently in Germany.
    >Thank you for any help you can give me,
    >Sincerely,
    >Margaret N

    Hello, Margaret.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to the FAQs above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 7-R.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 18, 2014


    Penalty for erroneous mah-jongg

    >From: J. Yuen W
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2014 8:00 AM
    >Subject: Penalty for False MJ Claim
    >Tom - our group plays the Chinese version MJ purely socially. I've reviewed your FAQs and Q & A boards seeking an answer without finding it. Please help. When a player calls a false mahjong hand what is the appropriate penalty? Does that player fold up their tiles and is eliminated from further playing that hand or does that player continue actively playing their hand but, can not win that hand? Again, thank you for your help.
    >Jon

    Hi, Jon.
    It's the latter. Taking a player out of the game (calling the player "dead" as is done in American mah-jongg) is not done in any Chinese variant I've seen. Depending on which variant you play (and whether or not your players use points - you said you play "purely socially," which I take to mean "no money"), there may also be a points penalty.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 17, 2014


    Set Appraisal, part 4

    >From: "B, Adele"
    >Sent: Monday, December 15, 2014 11:49 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah Jongg Set Appraisal
    >Thank you for the help. Does this mean the set May be from the early 1900's?
    >Adele

    Hi, Adele. To me, "early 1900s" means "before 1950." So yes, I would say this set is probably from before 1950. Notice the 1948 NMJL card - I would think it more likely that someone put that card (when it was new) into an older set, than that someone got a new set and then put an old card into it. Long story short: I think the set is from the 1940s. Your paper instructions may hold clues as to the set's age.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 15, 2014


    Set Appraisal, part 3

    >From: RayHeaton
    >Sent: Monday, December 15, 2014 1:56 AM
    >Subject: "Set Appraisal" - Adele's set from Sunday
    >Hi Tom, though not uncommon, I think the flower tiles on Adele's set from Sunday are very interesting (assuming I have read them correctly, the photo isn't too clear!).
    >The tiles say (once arranged in sequence) 一統山河, 文明世界; a unified country (in a ) civilised world.
    >I'm uncertain, but I have three potential origins for these phrases...in my preferred order of likelihood these are:
    > (1) a reference to the post Qing era where China was united under the nationalists, possibly originating from Sun Yatsen's desire to bring unity and peace - if you read his speech on, for example, Pan-Asianism, you can see how these types of phrases could relate directly to him (there are other tile sets that are definitely from Sun Yatsen's speeches);
    > (2) the phrases may refer to the subsequent rise and take over of the country by the communists and the wish to unite mainland China and Taiwan;
    > (3) they could even be referring all the way back to the Han dynasty unifying the country after the fall of the Qin. This used to be my favoured option, but now I think it less likely.
    >Regards
    >Ray Heaton

    Great, Ray! To aid in the reading, I re-arranged Adele's flowers properly (putting all red numbers in one column, all green numbers in the other). On the left is Adele's arrangement, and on the right is mine.

    I think your option 2 is very unlikely, since the Communists outlawed mah-jongg and all gambling. I, too, favor your #1.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 15, 2014


    Set Appraisal, part 2

    >From: "B, Adele"
    >Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2014 2:13 PM
    >Subject: RE: Mah Jongg Set Appraisal
    >Resubmitting with less pictures. Sorry, I didn’t realize there were so many, I was just trying to share the details of the set.
    >Adele


    Okay, Adele.
    I agree that Fair is an appropriate grading for the case. I guess "Good" is appropriate for the tiles, since they're usable, but the gaps between bone and bamboo are unsightly and show poor craftsmanship. The paper guide is one I've not seen before - that has some value (maybe more than $10 just for that alone). The answer to "how many jokers" is obviously "none" (you identified all the tiles, and you didn't have any unknown tiles left over after you named them). The chip holders are unusual - I've never seen that type of hinged device for holding the chips in place. The set, then, for all its flaws, also has some good things about it. It has value only for a collector interested in having sets of many types and variations. (Someone who wants to play mah-jongg with it could find a more attractive set very easily, and since it has no jokers it's not good for American-style mah-jongg.) I'd say it's not that valuable: maybe $90 at the most. Sorry again for being so sharp with you the first time.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    12/14/14


    Set Appraisal

    >From: "B, Adele"
    >Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2014 11:37 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Set Appraisal
    >Dear Mr. Sloper,
    >I was wondering if you could help me place on value on the Mah Jongg Set that I picked up at an estate sale this weekend. I am going to try my best to follow your directions and give you all the pictures and information that you requested on your site:
    >1. Write a factual detailed list of all the contents of your set. Describe all the contents, listing all dice, chips, racks, etc. If you do not know what to call the pieces, see our FAQ 7d .
    >The set is in a hard case that measures 19 ½” wide, 9” deep and 3 ¼” tall. The case is black and made of an unknown material. It is metal or leather, it is like a hard kydex. The set includes:
    >36 Dots Tiles
    >36 Bams Tiles
    >36 Craks Tiles
    >16 Winds Tiles
    >8 Dragon Tiles
    >8 Flower Tiles
    >4 Other or Blank Tiles
    >The tiles measure approx. ¾” wide, 1” tall and ¼” thick.
    >The set also include 4 wooden racks that measure 18 ½”with metal braces on the end and the follow chips:
    >10 blue metal coins marked 500
    >6 green metal coins marked 10
    >1 yellow metal con marked 50
    >22 Red plastic coins
    >14 green plastic coins
    >19 blue plastic coins
    >14 white plastic coins
    >1948 Official Stand Hands and Rules marked NOT FOR RESALE, NATIONAL MAH JONGG LEAGUE, INC. The bottom is marked proceeds donated to Patriotic and charitable causes.
    >A 5 page printout guide of how to play Mah Jongg with pictures and instructions
    >And 3 red dice
    >2. IMPORTANT: Describe the condition of all the components of the set.
    >If I am being honest the case is in Fair condition. The corners show wear and the covering is lifted in some places. The case closes and locked and the inside of the case has a stain but is in overall good condition. The titles are in good condition but they appear to be dirty and I am not sure how to clean them without damaging them and a couple of the tiles appear to be cracked.
    > 3. What are the tiles made of ? (See our FAQ 7c .) I am 99% sure they are bad of bone and bamboo.
    > 4. Describe what you know about when the set was made or purchased, if you know. I assume the set is from 1948 as marked on the card and that is all the history that I know.
    > 5. What are the dimensions of the tiles? Use either inches or metric (one or the other, not both - doesn't matter which; just be precise). Height, width, depth. If the tiles are bone & bamboo, give thickness of the bone portion. (Same goes for ivory & bamboo tiles.) The tiles measure approx. ¾” wide, 1” tall and ¼” thick. It appears they are 50% bamboo and 50% bone.
    > 6. How many tiles are there in the set? 144 tiles total
    > 7. What other pieces (besides tiles) are included with the set? List above.
    > 8. What kind of container does the set come in? It is a hard locking case, no metal and not leather.
    > 9. What condition is the container in? The case is in fair condition.
    > 10. Does the set have any paper materials -- 1948 Official Stand Hands and Rules marked NOT FOR RESALE, NATIONAL MAH JONGG LEAGUE, INC. The bottom is marked proceeds donated to Patriotic and charitable causes.
    >A 5 page printout guide of how to play Mah Jongg with pictures and instructions. Both are in fair condition with some stains.
    > 11. Which kind of craks are in this set -- the older kind or the later kind? Take a picture to provide to the appraiser.
    > 12. Provide a picture of the One Bams . These tiles can sometimes tell a lot about which part of China the set came from.
    > 13. Provide a picture of the dragons too. These tiles can sometimes tell a lot about which era of mah-jongg history the set came from.
    > 14. And provide a picture of the flowers /seasons. These tiles are sometimes exotic and can enhance the set's value.
    > 15. How many jokers (if any) does the set have? I’m not sure.
    >Thank you,
    >Adele
    >73 Attachments View all Download all

    SEVENTY-THREE PICTURES??
    Please do it again, with a reasonable number of pictures.

    P.S. I'm sorry, but seriously. There are limits to what I can offer here. This should be doable with no more than ten or twelve pictures, in most cases. Sometimes I can even do with just one. Seventy-three is just crazy.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    12/14/14


    My mystery flowers, part 2

    >From: RayHeaton
    >Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2014 3:05 AM
    >Subject: My Mystery Flower Tiles
    >Hi Tom,
    >The flower tiles that Robert asked about (12th December) show boys holding the Flowers of the Four Seasons, a common group of flowers in Chinese culture; each flower representing one of the four seasons.
    >The two that Robert has are the Chrysanthemum on the Autumn tile (#3) and the Plum Blossom on the Winter tile (#4). The missing two are Orchid for Spring and Lotus for Summer.
    >These differ in sequence and flower to the group you showed (Plum, Orchid, Bamboo, Mum), there is no Bamboo in Robert's grouping, the Lotus making its appearance - though both groupings are correct, they just mean slightly different things.
    >Regards
    >Ray

    Excellent, Ray. I'm so glad you keep an eye on the board to help out with questions like Robert's.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 14, 2014


    What if the bet-on loses a death challenge?

    >From: Franklin C
    >Sent: Saturday, December 13, 2014 6:45 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: A player loses a death challenge,
    >If that player is bet on, does the better also have to pay the 25c ?

    Franklin, the official rule book says "the Bettor pays the winner the same value as the player bet on." The bettor ties her fate to the bet-on, and collects or pays exactly as the bet-on does. As I wrote in FAQ 19-W: "If she bet wrongly, she pays exactly what the "bet-on" player pays to any or all other players."
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    12/13/14


    Donation

    >From: Catherine H via PayPal
    >Sent: Saturday, December 13, 2014 11:51 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Catherine H
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$25.00 USD from Catherine H. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $25.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Confirmation number:
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Catherine H
    >Message: Hello Tom... I have learned so much from your site in the last year. An extra bonus has been all the times I have laughed at your very dry sense of humor in some of your responses. I do website work and I know it takes a lot of time and effort. So thank you and happy holidays! ~~Catherine H
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you very much, Catherine! I'm trying to think of something dry to say, but, well, what can I say, we're between rainstorms.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    12/13/14


    Donation

    >From: Debra C
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 8:15 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Debra C
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Debra C. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Confirmation number:
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Debra Colletti
    >Message: I am a new player and really enjoy your site. Thanks.
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Debra!
    May the tiles be with you!
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    12/13/14


    Which type of case, part 4

    >From: Belinda <furbabymom
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 8:29 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have a con regarding the aluminum case, it looks great when brand new but quickly becomes scratched and dented, minor dents but they do detract from the look of the set.
    >Bee

    Cool. Thanks, Belinda. I have just one aluminum case, but the set in it isn't American so I don't lug it around. When I'm teaching groups of more than 6 students I usually bring 2 sets on a luggage roller, since I also have to bring my bag o' teaching materials - my roller can hold 4 sets and my teaching bag. But if I was lugging just 1 set, maybe one of those soft bags with tray wraps and shoulder strap would be the way to go after all. btw, I retrieved your email from my spam folder, or it would have gone up online sooner.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    12/13/14


    My mystery flower tiles

    >From: Robert C
    >Sent: Friday, December 12, 2014 5:00 PM
    >Subject: Four Joker/Flower Tiles
    >Greetings, Tom,
    >I have been a fan of your great website for years but have never sent a question. Here goes.
    >I bought these (4) four tiles to serve as Jokers for my bone and bamboo set. They were so unusual, that I didn't want to put a sticker over them before I had some idea as to what they were.
    >Two of the characters seem to be holding some sort of flower and the other two are holding some type of tablet or scroll, etc. Could you help with what these tiles represent or who the characters are. I assume that they are some type of flower, scholar, worker, etc.
    >Your insight is certainly appreciated.
    >Regards,
    >Bob

    Hi, Bob.
    Nice to hear from a "silent visitor" at last! (^_^)
    Checking FAQ 7E, here's what I get for the writing on the tiles:

    Top #3: AUTUMN
    Top #4: WINTER
    Bottom #2: BOARD GAME (qi, same character as in the bottom row, FAQ 7E, "Another sort of flower tiles")
    Bottom #4: PAINTING (huà, see FAQ 7E, same reference)

    As for your "four" personages: they look to me like they're all the same guy (notice his costume and hairdo is always exactly the same). The top 2 are holding flowers, as you say (I don't think it's important what flowers they might be, and I don't know if that's knowable). Bottom #2 is holding a game board, and bottom #4 is holding a painting; those represent two of the Four Arts of the Chinese Scholar; see Wikipedia, and see FAQ 7E, "Another sort of flower tiles," "BOTTOM ROW." Your #2 and #4 correspond exactly to the #2 and #4 flowers in that image (reproduced here):

    And the season names are right there in FAQ 7E also:

    Too bad you're missing the other 4 tiles that match those four. If I were you and I needed four jokers, I wouldn't sticker over those lovelies. I'd just tell anybody playing with me "the four man tiles are all to be used as jokers."

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 12, 2014


    Frequently-Asked Question 19E

    >From: Wilhelmina J
    >Sent: Thursday, December 11, 2014 11:40 AM
    >Subject: What are the rules about this?
    >Can I use the joker to make the number 2014. I was told that since they are individual numbers, I can't. Is that true?
    >Wilhelmina J

    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-E. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    Also: every player should read everything on the NMJL card. Turn it over and look at the back. Left pane, last sentence of the last paragraph before the numbered rules. Look for the word "NEVER" (in all capital letters, bold text, and underlined just like that).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 11, 2014


    Which type of case, part 3

    >From: Catherine H
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 7:12 PM
    >Subject: Hard case vs. soft bag perspective
    >Hello Tom... I hope you don't mind that I add my thoughts to the Patty's question about types of cases. When I bought my first set, I got the hard aluminum case because I wasn't aware of other options being a total newbie. I found it quite heavy and bulky to carry. For my second set a couple of months later, I got the soft velour bag with the wraps and TRAYs from Amazon. I have since bought two more sets of tiles and an additional velour bag with wraps and more trays.
    >
    >Since getting the soft bags, I have not even opened the hard case set. For me as a small-framed female with slight joint issues, the hard case puts too much strain on my elbow and wrist since all the weight is concentrated through the arm. The soft bags have shoulder straps which is so much more comfortable to carry since the weight is more evenly distributed. I recommend this same set up to all my friends looking for a set for this reason.
    >
    >I also am a neat-freak (engineer, what can I say?) when it comes to my MJ sets and always put the tiles back into their trays and secure them in the wraps. I would never throw my precious tiles willy-nilly into a bag!
    >Just offering a female perspective... no Waltzing Matilda here! LOL
    >Catherine H

    Hi Catherine,
    Of course I'm delighted to have other opinions. So there are trays that work in a bag, because they're not open-top? Or they fit tightly into some kind of wraps, you say? Having trays in a lightweight carrier with shoulder straps does indeed sound like a best-of-both-worlds kind of situation.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 10, 2014


    Which type of case, part 2

    >From: "dptaubenslag
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 6:22 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thanks so much for your quick response! I appreciate your insight and knowledge. I will be purchasing the hard case. Seems the "neat freak" part of me agrees with you!
    >Happy Holidays!
    >Patty


    Which type of case should I get?

    >From: "dptaubenslag
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 4:39 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I am purchasing my first Mah-Jongg set. I have decided on my choices for tiles and all-in-one racks but I am not sure what case to choose. I can select a hard silver aluminum case ( not with wheels and handle, do not want those options ) or a soft canvas type case with sleeves and zipper storage inside. Not sure which is more functional? Weight of case not an issue.
    >Please give me your opinion and/ or reasoning in regard to each.
    >Thank you,
    >Regards,
    >Patty

    Hi, Patty. I personally would absolutely never buy a soft case. I understand why some people might prefer that (see "Pro" below), but to me there's a huge "Con." Here are the pros and cons of the soft case:
    CON: In a soft case, the tiles will eventually get scuffed from rubbing and banging against each other willy-nilly in the big "duffel o'tiles."
    PRO: With a soft case, there's no laborious process of having to place the tiles back in orderly trays after playing with them. Only a neat freak (like Tom Sloper) would want to go to all that trouble! Just throw everything in the bag, zip it up, and off you go like Waltzing Matilda.
    Great question, Patty. I'll add this to FAQ 7-D.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 10, 2014


    Can a player call another player dead?

    >From: Donna G
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 9, 2014 5:52 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: If a player has an exposure or exposures that indicate a particular hand and during the game the tiles he/she needs are thrown out therefore making it impossible to do that hand or any other, do you declare the player dead or does the player know he/she is dead but is allowing to keep playing a defensive game?

    Hi Donna, you wrote:

    do you declare the player dead
    Yes.

    or does the player know he/she is dead but is allowing to keep playing a defensive game?
    Yes. This is a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQs 19-AA through 19-AC. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 9, 2014


    What's the origin of "goulash"?

    >From: Ruth P
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 9, 2014 3:29 PM
    >Subject: Question (interesting one)
    >[personal information deleted]
    >Dear tom, We play Western rules here in Hervey Bay Queensland and we all wonder where the word "goulash" orriginated? It doesn`t seem very Chinese to us .
    >Thank you, Ruth P

    G'day, Ruth.
    I was not present when the term first came up, so I can only guess as to its origin. In response to the same question From: Rosstella on Thursday, February 28, 2013 (you can page back on this bulletin board and see this) I wrote:

      I think the reason is simple. In the goulash (also called the Charleston or the razzle by some players), each player "mixes up" her hand by exchanging 3 tiles with other players in turn.

      Let me back up a bit and explain a little about mah-jongg history. After mah-jongg's initial 1920s craze died down (after the "mah-jongg wars," which female players likely blamed on the men whose macho competitive nature insisted on raising the game's difficulty... long story, too long, see FAQ 11), women continued playing mah-jongg, but making their own rules in the process. The result: British/western rules (Robertson, Thompson/Maloney, Strauser/Evans, etc.) and NMJL/American rules.

      So one of the practices the ladies came up with was a mixing-up of unwanted tiles. Apparently, this process reminded American ladies of a dance: "The Charleston," from the 1920s. And this process reminded the ladies who made up British/western mah-jongg of a dish involving a mix of any old ingredients one had lying around: "Goulash."

    Then reader Ray H wrote me on Friday, March 1, 2013 and said:

      > Is it possible that the term Goulash used in Mahjong actually derived from using the same term in the card game Bridge, rather than directly from the culinary use of the word? A Goulash (also called Ghoulie) in Bridge is where a lightly shuffled hand is dealt after a round has been played, the intention is to keep already sorted cards together rather than evenly distributing them again, cards are then dealt in blocks of 4 or 5 to ensure each player receives a challenging hand! I think this style of play in Bridge originated in the 1920s.

    To which I replied:

      Good point! Goulash, it turns out, is indeed a term used in bridge. And also it's the name of a 64-card pinochle game. I have books on card games from the 1920s and 1930s, and I could not find the term "goulash" in any of those old books. The earliest I can find the term "goulash" in my card game library is "Goren's Hoyle Encyclopedia of Games," copyrighted 1961, 1950.
      Goren points out that in bridge, the goulash may also be called the "mayonnaise" or "Hollandaise." In his description of Goulash Pinochle, he says that the name is derived from the practice of shuffling together two Klaberjass decks "in a goulash." A Klaberjass deck is 32 cards (a regular 52-card deck, minus all cards from deuce through six inclusive).
      So it's hard to say whether the term was used first in bridge, pinochle, or western/British/Australian mah-jongg. Especially since the origins and evolution of that variant are unknown.
      One more note: I checked Foster's Hoyle for the 64-card pinochle game, and he just calls it "64-card Binocle" (or "Bezique," depending on details of play), not "Goulash."

    And then Ray H wrote back on March 2, 2013 (again, you can page back through this board's history and read this):

      ...this book on Bridge by Ely Cuthbertson mentions Goulash. The book dates around 1930.
      > http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015025023352;skin=mobile#page/ii/mode/2up
      > If you jump to around page 308 or so, you can see references to Passing Goulash where several cards are passed 3 times.

    So, Ruth, the origin definitely goes back a long ways, and probably originated with Bridge. The origin probably is explained as I initially imagined it: it's because the tiles are being mixed up in a different way, which is sort of how the foodstuff called goulash is made.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 9, 2014


    Why are those flower rules on the back of the card?

    >From: Sarah
    >Sent: Friday, December 5, 2014 8:42 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >My question deals with the rules on the back of the nmjl card. Why do the rules separately address the discarded flower in the last three sentences above the "rules for bettors" section? I'm new to the game and it feels like I'm missing something. In my way of thinking the discarded flower rules are true of basically any suit tile so I can't figure out why the nmjl card singles them out in this section.
    >Thank you very much for your website. It has been very helpful in learning the game. I was concerned earlier this week when your site would not load. Glad to see your back up and running.
    >Thank you,
    >Sarah

    Hi, Sarah.
    I believe those flower rules are "legacy" rules based on the fact that there are still players alive today who played back in the sixties and before, when flowers were wild. You know how multitudinous and confusing all the joker rules are? Well, people who still remember that flowers used to be wild may still need reminding that nowadays flowers are just like any regular (non-joker) tile. In my opinion, the League could stop printing those old outdated rules on the card, and use the space for other things (like telling players that "2014" is not a kong, that discarded jokers may not be taken, that discarded redeemables may not be taken... stuff like that).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 5, 2014


    I would appreciate your opinion, part 2

    >From: Jill S
    >Sent: Friday, December 5, 2014 2:06 PM
    >Subject: Jill Sandler's previous email re: mah Jongg set with two tone tiles
    >Hi Tom, I was wondering if you were able to identify what type of tiles they are and who the manufacturer might be. In addition, the time period they were manufactured.
    >Thank you,
    >Jill

    Hi, Jill. You asked:

    what type of tiles they are
    Westernized (they were not made for sale in China, since they have western indices in the corners). Specifically, American (since the set also includes plastic racks). Read FAQ 7a.

    who the manufacturer might be
    I don't know. Presumably one of the American manufacturers. I'm not an expert on manufacturers. You should check CHarli's site, or the Mahjong Museum site (see links at the bottom of FAQ 4a).

    the time period they were manufactured.
    I can't be certain, since you didn't give me enough information. If the set has no manufactured jokers (only stickered jokers), then it was probably made before 1960. You can narrow that down if you read column 509.

    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 6, 2014


    Who was wrong, part 4

    >From: Lynn McD
    >Sent: Friday, December 5, 2014 1:42 PM
    >Subject: Re: who was wrong, part 3
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for your detailed analysis of the stumper I sent you! We were intrigued that you sided with Player 4 in all three “takes” on the question. It was a new approach to put so much of the onus on Player 2 for speaking up if Player 4’s calling of the tile had happened after the window of opportunity was closed. (We don’t pick ahead, so that wasn’t at play here.) I think our take-away message from this was: we need to update our glasses and hearing aids!!!
    >Lynn

    You got exactly the right takeaway, Lynn! I'm not saying player 4 did not err (if player 2 picked before player 4 called); but since nobody saw player 2 pick, I can't really fault player 4 for not seeing player 2 pick. Player 2's error compounded player 4's error in that scenario, and since the rule is that a call must be verbal, the burden then shifts to the player who is affected most by the call, and that's player 2. It has also occurred to me that one or more of your players could be deaf, which throws a much different spin on everything (it has to be assumed that all players can see and hear). If a hearing-impaired player is in the game, then the whole table has to be on notice that adjustments have to be made, and allowances given, accordingly.
    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 6, 2014


    I would appreciate your opinion on this set.

    >From: Jill S
    >Sent: Friday, December 5, 2014 8:03 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg set
    >Greetings Tom,
    >I purchased this lovely set from a consignment shop in Miami several years ago. The owner of the shop acquired it from an estate sale. The woman who owned the set may have been from the Midwest. I removed red nail polish from 8 tiles and bought joker stickers.
    >I would very much appreciate your opinion and knowledge on this set.
    >Thank you very much!
    >Jill S

    Hi, Jill. My "opinions" are that it's a two-tone set, the tiles appear to be shiny, and some of the paint appears to have worn off. Can you be more specific with your question(s), please? I don't know what you're trying to find out (if it's "just anything", read FAQ 7P).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 6, 2014


    I cannot find this rule anywhere

    >From: "L, Ricki"
    >Sent: Friday, December 5, 2014 6:03 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Our group was informed (by another group who taught us) Jokers may not be used to complete “2014s”.
    >I cannot find this Rule anywhere.
    >Your kind attention in clarifying this matter would be so very much appreciated.
    >Thank you and kind regards.
    >Ricki L

    Ricki, did you try looking on the card? Turn it over and look at the back. Left pane, last sentence of the last paragraph before the numbered rules. Look for the word "NEVER" (in all capital letters, bold text, and underlined just like that).
    And for a more detailed answer: This a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-E. 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! And every player is obligated to read and understand 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 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 5, 2014


    Who was wrong, part 3

    My answer to the question from Lynn (below) deserves further explanation. Lynn's players did not know whether player 2 had picked from the wall before, or after, player 4 called player 1's discard, Lynn said. That would seem to be important to determining what should happen, yet I didn't address it in the answer I gave yesterday. So let's look at it from both angles. First, let's assume player 2 picked her tile before. Then the sequence of events went like this:

    Player 1 discarded.
    For the purposes of this discussion, let's say that player 2 picked from the wall and racked the tile, without anyone noticing.
    Not noticing that player 2 had picked and racked, player 4 called player 1's discard. Let's acknowledge that this is erroneous, since player 2 has silently closed the window of opportunity on the discard - but player 2 then compounded the error, when...
    ...Player 2 did not say anything about player 4's action. She did not try to stop player 4.
    Player 4 exposed a set atop her rack, using player 1's discard.
    Player 2 discarded.

    You can see from the above that player 2 erred. At step 4, assuming player 4 called the discard, player 2 should have said, "sorry, too late. I've already picked and racked." But she didn't! She said nothing! What was going on? How could she not hear player 4 call the discard, and how could she not see player 4 make an exposure? If player 2 really picked before player 4 called the discard, then why on earth did she not say anything when player 4 made her play?
    Or maybe player 2 didn't pick before player 4's call:

    Player 1 discarded.
    Player 4 called player 1's discard.
    Not paying attention to player 4, player 2 picked from the wall, and racked, without anyone noticing.
    Player 4 exposed a set atop her rack, using player 1's discard.
    Player 2 discarded.

    In this scenario also, player 2 clearly erred -- at step 3, she was taking an action without regard for the fact that player 4 had called for the discard.

    So, either way, player 2 is wrong!

    But are those really the only possible scenarios? No. Player 2 might have picked ahead:

    Player 2 picked sometime before....
    ...Player 1 discarded.
    Player 4 called for player 1's discard. Etc.

    Under this scenario, too, player 2 has erred. Look on the back of the card, rule #1 (near the bottom of the left pane): "NO PICKING OR LOOKING AHEAD." If she usually plays with a group that picks ahead (plays with a "future," plays with "14 tiles"), then when she came to play with a group who uses the official rules, she needed to change her ways.

    No matter which of the 3 possible scenarios matches what actually happened in Lynn's game, then, player 2 has erred, and her play cannot stand.

    In my opinion, this was an interesting challenge to analyze.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 3, 2014


    Can I change my exposure? (FAQ 19-AF)

    From: Sue W
    Sent: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 12:49 PM
    Subject: Fwd: Mah Jongg Rule
    IS THIS CORRECT? THX.
    All,
    I was told recently about a Mah Jongg rule .
    This is the example I used. If I called a 4 bam and exposed three 4 bams and a Joker and only needed to expose three 4 bams, I can put the Joker back in my hand as long as I didn't discard a tile. I was also told that if I was playing a hand and exposed three 4 bams and needed five, I could add the additional two 4 bams if I had not discarded a tile.
    I was always under the impression that I would be dead if I exposed more tiles that needed but that isn't the case as long as a tile has not been discarded.

    Hi, Sue.
    My website is experiencing problems right now, so I'm emailing you this answer for now. When my site is back up again, I'll post it so others can also benefit from this Q&A.
    It's true that you can change your exposure as long as you have not yet discarded. (Note, though, that you have committed to making an exposure -- so you may not put all your tiles back in your hand at this point). See FAQ 19-AF (you can link to FAQ 19 above left).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 2, 2014


    Who was wrong, part 2

    From: Lynn McD
    Sent: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 12:46 PM
    Subject: RE: American MJ question
    Thank you!


    Who was wrong in this weird situation?

    From: Lynn McD
    Sent: Monday, December 1, 2014 4:15 PM
    Subject: American MJ question
    Hi Tom,
    I had a question at mah jongg today that I wasn’t sure how to answer: Player 1 discarded a 7-bam. Player 4 called it and exposed a kong of 7-bams using the called tile. Then, player 2 discarded a tile. Everyone looked at her in surprise and she said, “I already picked my tile from the wall.” No one had seen player 2 pick her tile, and no one knew whether player 4 called the 7-bam before or after player 2 picked and racked her tile. Is player 4 dead for going out of turn? Does player 2 have to put the tile she picked from the wall back in the wall? How is a situation like this resolved?
    Thanks!
    Lynn McD.

    Hi, Lynn.
    My website is experiencing problems right now, so I'm emailing you this answer for now. When my site is back up again, I'll post it so others can also benefit from this Q&A.
    Your player 2 erred. She never said anything when player 4 called the 7B, then she blithely discarded a tile as if player 4 never did anything. It might be going too far to call player 2 dead; she should at least put her picked tile back in the wall.
    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 2, 2014


    When is a tile "down"? (FAQ 19A) Can she change her mind? (FAQ 19B, FAQ 19AM)

    >From: "gbello3
    >Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2014 8:55 AM
    >Subject: Question
    >Hi tom,
    >This is regarding a player in the process of discarding a tile. She picks up ,say a 6 dot from her rack and is about to discard it on the table and says “six” but has not said “dot” yet. She changes her mind and wants to discard another tile instead.
    >Someone yesterday said as we were playing that if his situation occurs she must return that 6 dot and select another 6 to discard from her rack. In the 39 years that I have played and taught this game I have never heard of this. We play in a friendly atmosphere and this has never come up nor have we followed what that person said about the discarding the 6 dot. She swears it is on the Nation Mah Jongg rules. I cannot find it on the internet web sites that I Googled. I know that you can tell me if this is fact or fantasy.
    >Thank you,
    >Gloria

    Let's say we're at a tournament of 200 players, and the emcee announces, "we have a special prize for Gloria!" Three women stand up (they're named Gloria Bam, Gloria Crak, and Gloria Dot). I ask you, has the emcee named the prizewinner sufficiently so that the one true winner can claim her prize?
    Gloria, you've been here before, so you know how to look up a question in FAQ 19. The answer to FAQ 19A includes a reference to the official NMJL rulebook, page 18. Crack open your rulebook and show her rule 7 on page 18. Then ask her to show you where in the rulebook her apocryphal rule is. If she points to rule 6 at the bottom of page 17, then she's reading way more into it than is written there, and she'll need to send snailmail to the League (see FAQ 19BN).
    Please always check FAQ 19 before asking me a question. Thanks.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 29, 2014


    How does the color-coding work, part 3 (where can matching dragons be used, part 2)

    >From: Elaine H
    >Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2014 4:02 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: On the 2014 card, 6th combination down (second option), my friend played it as: 2F, 1111 of craks, 9999 of bams and DDDD of matching craks. She insisted the dragons had to match the suit.
    >I think that was wrong…I think it should have been played as 2F, 1111 of craks, 9999 of bams, and DDDD of white dragons (soap).
    >For love of the game, who is correct?

    Hi, Elaine.
    I'm glad that this question of yours and Donna's (below) finally has some specificity so this can be resolved. As I wrote before, it says on the back of the card that 1 color means 1 suit, and 3 colors means 3 suits. That particular hand can be made in either 1 suit or 3 suits, since that hand is shown in 1-color and 3-color versions.
    In the 3-suit version, since the Ds are not the same color as the 1s, it is clearly wrong to make the Ds and 1s in the same suit. If the 1s are craks and the 9s are bams, then the Ds (being in the third color) must match the 3rd suit. The only way the Ds and 1s could be the same suit is if they were printed in the same color on the card. Color-blindness is more common among men than women, but for all I know it's possible that your friend suffers from it, and perceives them as the same color.
    Since that hand can be made in 1 suit as well as 3 suits: maybe she was looking at the 1-suit version on the card. If the 1s and Ds are the same suit, then the 9s also have to be the same suit! She can't make the hand in 2 suits, since only 1-suit and 3-suit versions are shown on the card. I hope this is finally clear!
    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 29, 2014


    Can I redeem a joker from a dead player's rack? (FAQ 19-P)

    >From: Anne Q
    >Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2014 5:34 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If there is an exposed dead hand and the game continues, can the jokers still be swapped?

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

    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 29, 2014


    Where to get scoring sticks in HK, part 2

    >From: Michael J
    >Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2014 12:07 AM
    >Subject: Re: Old tallies
    >Many thanks for your kind response. I certainly did not know about the Chinese superstition regarding old sets. We have just spent most of the day up and down Hollywood Road and adjacent streets and, after trying to explain what we wanted many times over, we have come up with just enough extra tallies (old style!) to deal with our needs.
    >Michael J

    Excellent, Michael. You had better luck with your quest on Hollywood Road than I did with mine (the time I went on one there). I'll remove your post from the Accessories Wanted board.
    May the tiles be with you. Cheers!
    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 29, 2014


    Where can matching dragons be used on the 2014 card?

    >From: Elaine H
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 11:29 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: on back of card it says matching dragons crams with reds, etc. Is there any combination on the 2014 card requiring this? Thanks...

    Hi, Elaine.
    My apologies that it has taken so long to reply. Your question went into my Spam folder, and I hadn't checked the folder in a while.
    Anyplace you see the letter D on the card, that's a dragon. See 2468 #1, for instance. That's a one-suit hand (since it's printed in 1 color). Whatever suit you use, you have to use its matching dragon.
    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 28, 2014


    Can I call for and pick up that joker?

    >From: Gwen <jmelody
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 10:11 AM
    >Subject: Fw: MahJongg rule
    >Dear Tom,
    >I have a display of 3 tiles (2 tiles and 1 joker) The player to my left , by mistake, discards one of my tiles that is displayed instead of taking my joker and replacing it with that tile.
    >Can I call for and pick up that joker, putting it on my display and taking the joker back into my hand ?
    >What if by doing this, I can then Mahj , using the returned joker to complete my hand?

    Hi, Gwen.
    My apologies that it has taken so long to reply. Your question went into my Spam folder, and I hadn't checked the folder in a while.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-G. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 28, 2014


    Is this a punishable offense?

    >From: Esther
    >Sent: Thursday, November 27, 2014 5:45 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom, I have been searching your site for some help with table Etiquette. Some of our group are new players and have a tendency to declare to the table that they need to switch hands when they realize that the tiles that they need have been discarded. Is this a punishable offense or not?
    >Thanks
    >John

    Hi, John.
    The reason you couldn't find anything about this is that there's nothing to find about this particular "offense." When you've played with women longer, you'll find that women do not play mah-jongg the way men play poker. They enjoy wearing their emotions on their sleeves, even though doing so gives the other players information. You will also find that they enjoy kvetching. Especially beginners, but even some experienced players give in to their emotions this way.
    I have never played with someone who found it necessary to tell her opponents that she has to change her hand. But I have played with women who let it be known (usually in couched terms) that they were upset about a key tile going dead. Sometimes they'll glare or vent at the miscreant who killed their hand.
    Anyway, as I started to say, the reason you couldn't find out if this is a "punishable offense" is because nothing has ever been written in the American rules about the bad habit of giving information about one's own hand. (I'm assuming you are playing American mah-jongg.) The official Chinese rules do include a rule against "giving information," but that prohibition is surely intended to refer to giving information about someone else's hand rather than one's own (although, if one said "come on, red dragon," that would likely be punishable in an official Chinese tournament).
    What punishment do you think would be appropriate, in the absence of any official rule?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 27 (Thanksgiving Day), 2014


    Where to get scoring sticks in Hong Kong?

    >From: Michael Jelly <jelly619©btinternet.com>
    >Sent: Thursday, November 27, 2014 5:51 AM
    >Subject: Old tallies
    >I have recently bought a bone and bamboo set which I think dates from the 1920s. The character sign is the simplified one which you get in sets of that age.
    >The counting bones for the set are made of bone and have the old system of dots. Unfortunately there are not enough of these counting bones and I wonder if there is anywhere in Hong Kong where I could buy some old counting bones to augment those I have.
    >I am visiting Hong Kong and I wonder if there is anywhere that I can source these.
    >I am looking for at least:-
    >4 of the 500 tallies;
    >20 of the 100 tallies; and
    >24 pf the 2 tallies.
    >Do you have any suggestions?
    >Michael Jelly
    >Sheffield UK

    Hi, Michael.
    I am both responding to your question and posting your quest in the Accessories Wanted board.
    I don't think it'll be easy to find scoring sticks in Hong Kong. Thing is, you don't understand the Chinese superstitious attitude to old mah-jongg sets. The Chinese believe that old mah-jongg sets carry all the bad luck of all the non-winners who played with it (or the bad luck suffered by the set's previous owner). And 75% of the people who play mah-jongg don't win - or should I say, a person wins only 25% of the time - so a well-used mah-jongg set can carry a lot of bad joss! It would probably be easier to find sticks on eBay.
    I might possibly have extra sticks in the amounts you desire, but I recently moved and the sticks would be somewhere in the mountain of boxes behind me. I expect to unbox the mountain bit by bit over the coming month. But you'd probably get quicker results on eBay. And maybe a seller who sees your post on the Accessories Wanted board will contact you. You'll need to describe the "old system of dots," so as to ensure that you get sticks to match yours.
    May the tiles sticks 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 27 (Thanksgiving Day), 2014


    Age range/value of the pictured set

    >From: "G████, Vanessa
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 9:22 PM
    >Subject:
    >Dear Tom
    >Thank you for your terrific information on your website. I really appreciate it and the time you have taken to create it. I have a specific question for you.
    >Under Tab:
    >FAQ 7h. How Much Is My Set Worth?
    >There is a picture of a set directly under Question:
    >6. How many tiles are there in the set? Your best bet is to lay out the tiles on a table like this:
    >
    >
    >
    >Can you tell me the age range/value of the pictured set. I have an identical set of 144 tiles (no jokers, no others) in the Chinese style (no western indices). All the flower tiles are exactly the same engraving as yours, as is the peacock. Mine is not as white as yours. it is yellowish and well played. Also the colours on mine are not as vibrant. My set came with 4 old counters and 3 very old dice.
    >I would appreciate any info you could give me.
    >Cheers
    >Vanessa
    >Important - This email and any attachments may be confidential. If received in error, please contact us and delete all copies. Before opening or using attachments check them for viruses and defects. Regardless of any loss, damage or consequence, whether caused by the negligence of the sender or not, resulting directly or indirectly from the use of any attached files our liability is limited to resupplying any affected attachments. Any representations or opinions expressed are those of the individual sender, and not necessarily those of the Department of [deleted]

    Hi, Vanessa.
    I bought that set (made of pulverized/reconstituted fishbone backed with bamboo) new in the late 1990s, and spent somewhere around $70 for it. I can't tell you about your set without you giving me the information requested in FAQ 7H, including (and especially) photos of it.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    "When you email me, I own it." Answers I give are given only in this public forum. Emailing me a question constitutes your implied consent for the question and answer to be given on this bulletin board. Claims of confidentiality are voided in view of this implied consent as publicly and clearly stated.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 26, 2014


    Which tile is used most often?

    >From: Rosemary R
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 4:35 AM
    >Subject: Which tile is used most often?
    >Which tile is used most often in making "hands"....(except the Joker, of course)? I realize the answer will change every year as the game card changes. Seems like it would be a big job to ascertain this answer, so if it is too much work, I understand. As I look over my game card, I just wonder which tile is on there most often.
    >Thank you!

    Hi, Rosemary.
    You assume that the card is not well balanced, and that one tile is used more often than all the others. I do not share your assumption. Rather, I assume that the design of the card is thoroughly played, adjusted, and tested by the League prior to its release, to assure that the card is well balanced (that no tile, or section of the card, is more flexible than others). You'll notice that I used the word "assume" a lot here. I have no interest in testing the assumption by mathematical analysis. Any mathematically-inclined readers are more than welcome to exercise the little gray cells by calculating the combinatorics of your question, and letting the rest of us know what's discovered.
    I guess you're thinking that a player could hoard one particular flavor of tile to up one's chances of winning. I think that if that was true, the fact would prove itself through play, and the knowledge of it would be widespread.
    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 26, 2014


    Ideas, part 2

    >From: Jill S
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 6:23 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Greetings Tom, thank you for your response. Does the set have any value? I was thinking of selling it. It is in perfect condition. Still wrapped in plastic. All one would need is to purchase joker stickers.
    >Have a nice Thanksgiving!
    >Jill

    Hi, Jill. You wrote:

    Does the set have any value?
    Sure. Maybe $70 or $80.

    All one would need is to purchase joker stickers.
    And racks. And maybe a new case, to carry the tiles and the racks in (or at least a carrier for the racks).

    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 26, 2014


    Ideas as to the history?

    >From: Jill S
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 5:38 PM
    >Subject: Vintage Mah Jongg set
    >Hi Tom,
    >I purchased this lovely set a few months ago and was wondering if you might have any ideas as to the history. The wooden case has a sticker on the bottom that says "Kimura", Japan.
    >There are 164 white or ivory tiles, 28 are flowers. The trays appear to be lined in velvet. The set is still wrapped in plastic, never been used. The directions are included. I would love to know what you think.
    >Thank you!
    >Jill S

    Hi, Jill.
    The dragons are American-style, and the tiles have western indices. So the set was made for export to America. The number of flowers (combined with the absence of jokers) dates the set to before 1971. See column 509. The National Mah Jongg League never required more than 24 flowers (1950-1955), but it's likely that Kimura was anticipating another increase. So the set was probably made in the mid nineteen-fifties. The booklet is a common, generic description of the game that's difficult to comprehend (written in imperfect English, describing rules imperfectly), of uncertain origin.
    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 25, 2014

    Note: "dragons" changed to "flowers" (in italics) to correct an error in the original response.


    What are these stick things, part 3

    >From: J. R. Fitch
    >To: ralph h
    >Cc: Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 4:44 PM
    >Subject: Re: Filipino mahjong
    >Ralph [wrote],
    >> We do not use any type of point system or play for money (yet).
    >> However, my wife and I just spent alot of money on a Mahjong game that includes
    >> what I believe are betting sticks. *M**y question(s) is*: *How do you actually use the sticks? *
    >> Do you bet on the tiles you have, bet on whether you think you have the best hand? Do we
    >> collect points based on our Mahjong? Do we score only on flowers and collect sticks from that?
    >
    >I don't know of any way that bets are placed on or in a mahjong game. It is not a betting game.
    >But, it *is* a gambling game. The winner gets paid according to the contents of his/her hand. In some variations, non-winners also receive some payment. In Filipino style, some of these minor payments are made during the hand.
    >The skinny dotted sticks are simply an old Chinese form of representational money. I've never seen them used. Worldwide, people play with real cash or with poker chips.
    >My advice: because of the way that mahjong is scored and the fact that there is no betting, it is 100 times more fun to play for money, even if the money is pennies and is handed back at the end of the evening. Find someone local to show you how to score.
    >So, leave the sticks in the mahjong set box, but you will find a bit about them at
    >http://sloperama.com/mjfaq.html
    >Regards,
    >J. R. Fitch
    >Nine Dragons Software
    >http://www.ninedragons.com

    J.R.,
    It's great to hear from you! Ralph and I have been discussing sticks on my bulletin board. I think it was I who guessed that we were talking about Filipino mah-jongg (I haven't heard confirmation on that from Ralph). http://sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd.htm
    Cheers,
    Tom

    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 25, 2014


    What are these stick things and how are they used, part 2

    >From: ralph h
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 10:46 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mahjong question
    >Tom,
    >Thanks for the info. I looked at FAQ 7D again and I still can not figure out "when" to actually use the sticks... I apologize if I am overlooking something. I am trying to find out an example of play: I have mahjong. Do I collect sticks from other players based on the numbers on my tiles and/or flowers? If you could give me a quick example, I would appreciate it.Thanks.

    Hi, Ralph. You wrote:

    I still can not figure out "when" to actually use the sticks
    I wrote in FAQ 7D: "At the conclusion of a hand of mah-jongg, non-winners give chips or sticks to the winner."

    I have mahjong. Do I collect sticks from other players
    Yes.

    based on the numbers on my tiles and/or flowers?
    No. Scoring differs depending on what variant you are playing. You'd need to read FAQ 2B, figure out which variant you're playing, then there may be a link there directing you to rules for your variant - and/or you can find either a book (FAQ 3) or website (FAQ 4B) that describes your variant, to find out the usual scoring method for your variant. Know, however, that you can use whatever practice you want, if you're playing in a vacuum (if you have no experienced players to play with). Then adapt, when you meet other players. Read FAQ 1 and FAQ 14.

    If you could give me a quick example, I would appreciate it.
    Okay. You say "mah-jongg." Then, using the scoring system appropriate to your variant, you determine that your win is worth, say, 32 points. You tell the other players. "Thirty-two; pay up!" Then they count out three tens and two ones and fork them over. (You decide which sticks are worth ten and which sticks are worth one, as I said in FAQ 7D.)

    Note that SOME players of some variants may even use "instant payment" practices. See the description of Filipino style in FAQ 2B - kongs are paid instantly even though the hand isn't finished yet.

    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 25, 2014


    What are these stick things and how are they used in mah-jongg? (FAQ 7D)

    >From: ralph h
    >Cc: Dianne H
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 7:29 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong question
    >Hey Tom,
    >I found your Mahjong bulletin board and was glad you were available by email for questions. My wife and I recently started playing Mahjong with my cousin. Her version is probably a mix of American and Chinese. We lay out tiles face down, build the wall, choose 16 tiles and play kind of like rummy... Simply try to get 3/4 of a kind or 3 in a row, coupled with a pair to go out... we have one side of the wall where we draw flowers from... We do not use any type of point system. However, my wife and I just spent alot of money on a Mahjong game that includes what I believe are betting sticks. In looking at your FAQs, I see the value point system but my question(s) is: How do you actually use the sticks? Do you bet on the tiles you have, bet on whether you think you have the best hand? Do we collect points based on our Mahjong? Do we score only on flowers and collect sticks from that? Any help you can give me on how to use these sticks would be great. Thanks for your help.

    Hi, Ralph. You wrote:

    Her version is probably a mix of American and Chinese. We lay out tiles face down, build the wall, choose 16 tiles and play kind of like rummy... Simply try to get 3/4 of a kind or 3 in a row, coupled with a pair to go out
    You play either Taiwanese or Filipino mah-jongg. See FAQ 2B. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    In looking at your FAQs, I see the value point system but my question(s) is: How do you actually use the sticks? Do you bet on the tiles you have, bet on whether you think you have the best hand?
    No. See FAQ 7D. I just modified it this morning since I realized I hadn't specifically said.

    Do we collect points based on our Mahjong?
    Yes.

    Do we score only on flowers and collect sticks from that?
    That sounds very much like how Filipinos play.

    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 25, 2014


    How does the color-coding work if there's no parenthetical, redux

    >From: Elaine H
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 7:56 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: on the 2014 card, under 13579 #6 second option, do the dragons have to match the suit or is it played as 3 different suits as shown? Are dragons considered a suit? Thanks...

    Hi, Elaine. You wrote:

    do the dragons have to match the suit or is it played as 3 different suits
    That hand is shown in 3 colors. Read the back of the card. It says, "1 color—any 1 suit; 2 colors—any 2 suits; 3 colors—3 suits."

    as shown?
    Not sure what you mean by "as shown." I'm guessing that you play in the same game as Donna B, below, and are asking the same thing she was asking yesterday. 3 colors just means 3 suits; the color-coding does not dictate that any particular suit must be used for any particular part of the hand. Read "Frequently Asked Question" 19-BY and FAQ 19-AJ. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks! 

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 25, 2014


    How does the color-coding work if there's no parenthetical?

    >From: Donna B
    >Sent: Monday, November 24, 2014 2:30 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >There are two places on the card where it does not say you can use various suits. For the one and nine can you use the suits that are stated or can you use different ones. Also what about the seven and four is 11. Can You only use the stated colors since it does not state that you can use others.
    >Donna. ??

    Hi, Donna. You wrote (italics added by me):
    For the one and nine can you use the suits that are stated or can you use different ones. Also what about the seven and four is 11. Can You only use the stated colors...

    What are the "stated" suits?? I don't see anything that dictates a particular suit anywhere on the card except where it says RR and GG (in Winds-Dragons). Look at the back of the card (you really should read the entire thing). It says, "1 color—any 1 suit; 2 colors—any 2 suits; 3 colors—3 suits." Read also "Frequently Asked Question" 19-BY and FAQ 19-AJ. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 24, 2014


    Love your column, but why are you shunning WWYP columns?

    >From: Shelly
    >Sent: Monday, November 24, 2014 1:09 PM
    >Subject: Love your Column
    >I have been reading your column for years. But why have you stopped doing the WWYP's.
    >I teach Mah Jongg and all my students have found the explanations you address
    >help clear things up for them.
    >I can imagine the work you put into it, but I clears up dilemmas they anticipate finding.
    >And it is coming from a person other than their instructor's opinion.
    >Please keep it up...
    > It is so well worth the effort.
    >Thanks again,
    > Shelly

    Hi Shelly,
    Actually, I haven't written a column in the past 2 weeks! The reason for that is that I've been absorbed in moving. I still have a lot of work to do on that for the next week, so may not write a column this weekend either. As for the What Would You Pass exercise, I will try harder not to overlook those in future columns. Have a nice Thanksgiving!
    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 24, 2014


    Can I use a joker in a pair, if it's for mah-jongg?

    >From: Madeline B
    >Sent: Saturday, November 22, 2014 5:06 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I need one tile for a pair _ to call Mahjong can I use joker? Maddie

    Hi, Maddie.
    Read the back of your card. Look for the word "NEVER" (in all capital letters, bold text, and underlined just like that).
    Or you could read "Frequently Asked Question" 19-E-2. 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. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 22, 2014


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

    >From: Marie A. D
    >Sent: Saturday, November 22, 2014 10:03 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I was having a hard time finding a list of FAQs so I’m asking this question and apologize if you have already answered it:
    >When a hand is declared dead, can the other players take a joker from the rack of a dead hand and replace it with the appropriate tile?
    >Thank you for your response!
    >Marie

    Hi, Marie. There's a list of FAQs above left. FAQ 19 is a list of the FAQs about American-style mah-jongg. You want FAQ 19-P.
    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 22, 2014


    Is it possible, part 2

    >From: "mscaston@
    >Sent: Friday, November 21, 2014 4:36 PM
    >Subject: Re: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
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    >ChoiceMail sender verification: Verify your identity here
    >Please be aware that if you do not complete sender verification within 3 days, ChoiceMail will automatically delete your original message.
    >To find out how ChoiceMail can make you spam free, please visit http://www...

    That's an unwelcome hassle, Marilyn. I was just replying to your email to let you know that I posted an answer to your question (below). That's as far as my free service goes. I've gotten this sort of automated reply before, and because I feared that the question-asker might not realize she needed to come back here to get her answer, I have clicked through those. But I did that enough times. I don't go through those extra steps anymore. I sincerely hope you come here and find your answer below!
    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 21, 2014


    Is it possible that my opposite player is to blame?

    >From: Marilyn C
    >Sent: Friday, November 21, 2014 11:18 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Yesterday I have found that I had too few tiles when playing. This happened twice. Is it possible that in the across Charleston moves, my opposite player was distracted and did not give me the tiles?
    >Best,
    >Marilyn C

    Hi, Marilyn.
    Anything is possible (except time travel to the past and the Star Trek holodeck).
    Many things are "possibly" the cause of your mishap; One of those things is that you weren't paying close enough attention to getting all your tiles. If you have too few tiles when the Charleston is over, it's you who suffers the consequences. So, as rapper Bull Hefner said to me once, "You better handle yo bidnass, or yo bidnass gonna handle you. Please believe it."
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 21, 2014


    Bubbe Fischer, part 3

    >From: Catherine H
    >Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2014 9:17 PM
    >Subject: Bubbe Fischer
    >Hello Tom... I wanted to thank you for recommending "Searching for Bubbe Fischer" by Karen Gooen. I so enjoyed her story as it unfolded and I could definitely relate to her immediate enchantment with the game of mah jongg. The touching mention of her Dad and the way she presented the close relationship with her friends was priceless. I highly recommend this book as an excellent read and wonderful gift!
    >This book not only was easy to read, but had wonderful tips for teaching others as I have recently started doing. I also love the way Karen approached and explained etiquette which is so important for new players to understand. Between your website guidance and Karen's book, I am again enthused about bringing in new players to our group.
    >It was also great to see your name sprinkled throughout the book sharing some of your words of MJ wisdom, too. Of course, your book was the first one I bought when I started playing about a year ago. Thanks for all you do for the MJ community!
    >Catherine
    > (p.s. I bought the digital version and I did notice one little oops...)
    >Chapter 6, discussion of FF 2222 44 66 8888 (kungs in one suit...) Location 680... sorry, page numbers are not designated on Kindle version.

    Hi Catherine,
    Very cool!
    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 21, 2014

    P.S. I gather that the little oops is a misspelling of the word "kong." I moved yesterday, and the location of my Bubbe book is a small mystery - so I can't check chapter 6 to see if the misspelling is in the print edition.


    Looking for a Kakinuma owner's manual

    >From: Miye I
    >Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2014 11:25 AM
    >Subject: Kakinuma User's Manual
    >Hello,
    >I have a Kakinuma mahjong table. I was wondering if you know how I can get a user's manual. I am going to Japan next week and I am hoping to contact the company and get ahold of a user's manual. Would you have any info about the manufacturer?
    >Thank you,
    >Miye

    Konbanwa, Miye-san. You wrote:

    I was wondering if you know how I can get a user's manual.
    I don't, but I would not be surprised if Kakinuma had it available for download on their website. How's your Japanese?

    hoping to contact the company and get ahold of a user's manual.
    If you were to go visit their offices, I imagine they'd be able to provide something! You'll need to know the model name, of course. Maybe even a version number. You could take a photo of the boilerplate on the bottom (or maybe it's inside).

    Would you have any info about the manufacturer?
    Just what I wrote in "Frequently Asked Question" 7F. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 20, 2014


    Offline American mah-jongg? (FAQ 5)

    >From: Julie S
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 19, 2014 2:35 PM
    >Subject: Offline computer MahJong
    >In your book, you note that there are no Off Line American Mah Jong Games yet. I haven’t noticed any on your website. Have any become available? I am a student in your class at Jewish University and don’t have any group I will be able to play with after the class is over. I’m trying some of the matching games, but really would benefit from actual game playing. Should I try one of the Chinese games? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks. Julie S

    Hi, Julie! I recognized your name in the email inbox. Take a look at FAQ 5 (the FAQ links are above left) - the NMJL's own game isn't yet playable offline, but will be next year. And mahjongtime is supposed to be playable against A.I. bots.
    See you Friday at ten! 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 19, 2014


    Do you call yourself dead? (FAQ 19-AC)

    >From: Vicki F
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 19, 2014 11:59 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Do you call yourself dead if you only have 12 tiles ?

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

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 19, 2014


    Is it authentic?

    >From: Lynn S
    >Sent: Sunday, November 16, 2014 10:37 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong set
    >Hello I have stumbled onto your site while trying to research a mahjong set that was left to me in a will. I would be very happy if you could give me any pertinent information on the set, as to what it is possible made out of, if it is authentic, and most important the value of it in todays prices. Thanks in advance I am attaching some pictures I have taken of it.
    >respectfully
    >Lynn

    Hi Lynn, you asked:

    what it is possible made out of
    Plastic. If it matters to you what kind of plastic, read Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) 7-c-3. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    if it is authentic
    I don't understand. If some tiles can be used to play mah-jongg, doesn't that make them "authentic" mah-jongg pieces? Or do you think somebody would want to make knockoffs of a Kwong Fat Cheung set for some reason? (I don't know what else might make a set of mah-jongg tiles "un-authentic.") By the way, I've visited Kwong Fat Cheung's office in Hong Kong. See http://www.sloperama.com/hk/hkmj.htm
    Also, by the way, that book is from the 1960s, and that might age the set to that decade (or the seventies).

    the value of it in todays prices
    It totally depends on condition and completeness. The book might be worth about $15. The set could be worth $50 if it's in perfect, like-new condition (including the case), and if all the tiles that are supposed to be there are there. You didn't read FAQ 7H before asking me your question. You should also read FAQ 7A and FAQ 7B. Please always check the FAQs before asking me a 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
    November 16, 2014


    Why is this self-pick, part 5

    >From: PhamKimThuy P
    >Sent: Saturday, November 15, 2014 11:54 PM
    >Subject: Re: NMJL question and answer
    >Dear Mr. Sloper,
    >It's clear now! Thank you!
    >pkthuy


    Why is this self-pick, part 4

    >From: Belinda - Frontier
    >Sent: Saturday, November 15, 2014 6:04 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Regarding the self pick question, > Player A discards a 9 Crak. Player B takes the 9 Crak; then exchanges for a joker in Player A's exposure. Then, Player B calls Mah Jongg. is this a self pick?
    >>> It does not say that Player B exchanges the 9 Crak for a joker in Player A's rack, only that she exchanges a joker in Player A's rack, then calls MJ. Thinking it through, it makes sense that Player B exchanges a different tile (other than the 9 Crak) as she exchanged a tile on Player A's rack who discarded the 9 Crak, if Player A had the 9 Crak she would have exchanged it for her own joker, therefore I believe the scenario indicates Player B took the 9 Crak for an exposure then exchanged a different tile for a joker, then calling MJ, making the MJ self pick.
    >Belinda

    Very good, Belinda. As you can see below, that's the way Gladys meant the Q&A to be interpreted.
    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, 2014


    Should I have been "cutthroat" and called her dead?

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Saturday, November 15, 2014 3:42 PM
    >Subject: Disqualifying or calling someone dead
    >Hi Tom,
    >The subject of calling someone dead came up in our game today and the three other players said they didn’t do it because they considered it “cut throat”. I have no qualms about doing so as it is a NMJL rule. During the hand right after this discussion, one player exposed 4 Soaps and 4 Reds. The third and fourth Green went out with several smirks. This player herself discarded two and eight Bams (the other possible hand). I didn’t call her Dead because there is another possible hand and am guessing this rule holds? I checked your book p. 63 101 c. and not sure if this applies here. What say you?
    >Thanks,
    >Donna

    Hi, Donna.
    Since you were playing with three people whose table rule is "don't call anybody dead," you were right not to call anybody dead. However, you shouldn't necessarily call her dead anyway - it's possible that she threw away the fourth 2B and the fourth 8B, although if that's what she was doing, she should have called mah-jongg at some point. Clearly, she was not trying to make the 2468 hand you're referring to. You can say "the greens are dead, so you can't make the bottom Winds-Dragons hand, and you threw away 2B and 8B without saying mah-jongg, so you're not trying to make the 2468 hand," but while the W-D hand clearly is impossible, the 2468 hand is not "impossible" to make (even if she threw away needed tiles), so technically you'd be wrong to call her dead.
    To go back to what I said before: you had just heard that their practice is to not call anyone dead, so the lady had every reasonable expectation not to be called dead, no matter what she did. It would have been a slap in the face to the group if you'd called her dead. Harmony firstmost!
    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, 2014


    Why is this self-pick, part 3

    I followed up with Gladys at Mah Jongg Madness about the question from PhamKimThuy, below. Turns out Gladys had read the question differently from how I'd read it.
    The way I'd read the example from the newsletter, the tile player B used to redeem the joker was 9C (the discard she claimed from Player A), so the rest of the question was moot - nobody pays anybody, since the illegal play cannot stand. The player falsely declared mah-jongg, and should be called dead.
    However, it's not stated in the newsletter what tile player B used to redeem the joker. If player B claimed the 9C for an exposure of 9Cs atop her own rack, then used some other tile (not the 9C) to redeem the joker, then she did win by self-pick, and Gladys' answer was correct.
    Here's the original question: "Player A discards a 9 Crak. Player B takes the 9 Crak; then exchanges for a joker in Player A's exposure. Then, Player B calls Mah Jongg." See how missing details can screw up the interpretation of what happened? The absence of those details resulted in two entirely different answers. And this is a perfect example that proves the point I made in FAQ 19-BN: "There are six chances to get the information all screwed up, when you ask rule questions on the phone." It turns out that it can even be screwed up if the question is in writing! The six ways I said in FAQ 19-BN that the information can be screwed up are:

    1. You might word the question imperfectly, causing the person on the other end of the phone to misunderstand what exactly you're asking.
    2. The person on the other end of the phone might misunderstand the question (thinking you're asking something else), even if you don't misstate it. (The problem might be in her ears, not in your mouth.)
    3. She might word the answer imperfectly.
    4. You might misunderstand the answer, even if she doesn't misstate it.
    5. When you report the answer back to your group, you might err in the wording of your report.
    6. Even if you word the answer perfectly to your group, they still might misinterpret your words. And you can't prove that you really got that answer, if it's not in writing.

    This instance was a perfect case of #1: the question was worded imperfectly. The result was two far-flung answers (both correct, based on the two interpretations).
    May the tiles be with us all!
    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, 2014


    Why is this self-pick, part 2

    >From: PhamKimThuy P
    >Sent: Friday, November 14, 2014 11:00 PM
    >Subject: Fw: MAH JONGG MADNESS NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER 2014
    >Dear Sir,
    >I am forwarding the below email. I agree as you've said that
    >"the writer of this answer did not read the question very carefully !"
    >Thank you so much for your answer.
    >pkthuy
    >----- Forwarded Message -----
    >From: MAH JONGG MADNESS TOURNAMENTS & CRUISES
    >To: phamkimthuyp...
    >Sent: Friday, November 14, 2014 1:13 PM
    >Subject: MAH JONGG MADNESS NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER 2014

    Hi, PhamKimThuy,
    Okay, I see it now. I got that mailing too. I'm emailing Gladys to let her know there was an error in her newsletter.
    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, 2014


    Why is this self-pick?

    >From: PhamKimThuy P
    >Sent: Friday, November 14, 2014 6:14 PM
    >Subject: NMJL question and answer
    >Dear Mr. Sloper
    >I've had a hard time to agree with the below answer. I need your advice to help me understanding it clearer.
    >Thank you so much for your time.
    >pkthuy
    >Q. A group of girls with whom I play Mah Jongg home games had a situation where we were split on what the answer should be:
    > Player A discards a 9 Crak. Player B takes the 9 Crak; then exchanges for a joker in Player A's exposure. Then, Player B calls Mah Jongg.
    > Since Mah Jongg was not achieved when the 9 Crak was called; rather when Player B exchanged for a joker, 2 of us said everyone owed double for the hand. Two said, the player who discarded the 9 Crak owed double (50 cents) and everyone else owed 25 cents. Who is correct?
    >A. This situation is a self-picked Mah Jongg. Everyone owes her double.

    Hi PhamKimThuy, you wrote (I marked in bold the crucial words in the question, and added a crucial word in brackets):

    Player A discards a 9 Crak. Player B takes the [discarded] 9 Crak; then exchanges for a joker in Player A's exposure.
    PhamKimThuy, where did you find this? This is an illegal move! Please read "Frequently Asked Question" 19-G. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    A. This situation is a self-picked Mah Jongg. Everyone owes her double.
    Who wrote that? Where did you find this? It's not online (Google could not find this exact phrase anywhere until now), so did you find it in a book? If so, what book? Was it in a letter from the League? If so, can you email me a sharp photo or scan of the letter? I think the writer of this answer did not read the question very carefully! Note that it's easy to misread a question - I did it myself, just a short while ago today, as you can see below.

    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 14, 2014


    The following Q&A has been struck through and rewritten because I misread the question the first time, and gave a wrong answer, and the asker might have seen it before I made the correction - Tom
    She picked and discarded it without racking; does she keep doing that until she finds a tile she wants to keep?

    She changed her mind about taking a discard - can she pick from the wall?


    >From: "2pups4me44
    >Sent: Friday, November 14, 2014 2:46 PM
    >Subject: Question
    >If someone picks up a discarded tile on their turn, holds it in their hand, looks at their tiles, decides it won’t work. Discards the tile . Can they continue to play by taking a tile from the wall? Or was that pick up and discard their turn?
    >Thanks for the help. I did read all the question and answers but didn’t see the needed information.
    >dorie

    Hello, dorie. You asked:

    If someone picks up a discarded tile on their turn, holds it in their hand, looks at their tiles, decides it won’t work. Discards the tile . Can they continue to play by taking a tile from the wall? Or was that pick up and discard their turn?
    Of course that pick and discard was her turn. She picked a tile. She can't just pick another, and then another, and then another, until she finds one she wants! This is mah-jongg, not Uno. In mah-jongg, you pick once (adding a fourteenth tile to your hand), then if the hand is not mah-jongg, you discard. Then it's the next person's turn.

    CORRECTION: I misread the original question (I was confused by the word "pick")! Let's start over:

    If someone picks up a discarded tile on their turn, holds it in their hand, looks at their tiles, decides it won’t work. Discards the tile ...
    She isn't "discarding" it - she's changing her mind about taking the discard, and putting it back. Read FAQ 19-AM-2. The FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) are above left.

    Congratulations, by the way - this is the first time anybody ever asked me this! 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 14, 2014


    Can she change her mind like that?

    >From: Joan F
    >Cc: Lplotkin
    >Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2014 10:02 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >It’s a player’s turn to discard – she calls the tile then changes her mind before putting it down on the table. She says, “no, I don’t want to do that” and puts in back on her rack and names another tile to discard. Is that allowed?
    >Joan F
    >New Orleans, LA

    Hi, Joan.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-AM. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Also, you used the word "call" confusingly. I suggest you read column 353.
    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 13, 2014


    Error resulting from misnamed discard (FAQ 19-AY-3)

    >From: David J
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 2:03 PM
    >Subject: Question
    >A player discarded a tile the next B player picked from the wall and racked the tile, the A player realized she misnamed the tile and corrected it. C player wanted the corrected misnamed tile. Is it to late for player C? Does B player replace her racked tile and play goes on with C player making an exposure?
    >Thank You
    >Paula J
    >I have your RDWW book but could find an answer. Love the book!

    Hi, Paula.
    I'm delighted that you appreciate my book! This is one of those rules that I missed when I wrote it. In the 7 years since the book's release, I've collected new material that ought to be in it. You can download the errata from the RDWW webpage. I've just now added your question, and my answer, to "Frequently Asked Question" 19. You can link to the FAQs above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-AY-3. I'm going to add this also to the errata, and I'll update the errata today. Look at the update date. At the time of this writing, the latest update is July 24. If it still says July 24, come back later to get the November 12 update.
    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 12, 2014

    P.S. The RDWW errata have now been updated.


    How many jokers do I need?

    >From: Peter U
    >Sent: Sunday, November 9, 2014 8:49 PM
    >Subject: How many Jokers in a mahjongg set?
    >I have a set and was hoping to find some jokers but have yet been able to get a correct amount needed in a set. I have four blank tiles could they be used?
    > Peter

    Hi, Peter. You wrote:

    How many Jokers in a mahjongg set?
    That depends on what kind of set you buy, and when the set was made. See FAQ 7A.

    I have a set and was hoping to find some jokers but have yet been able to get a correct amount needed in a set.
    The "correct amount" varies, depending on what kind of mah-jongg you play. See FAQ 2B. If you haven't found a set with jokers, see FAQ 7K and try the vendors in FAQ 4A.
    Cutting to the chase: if you intend to play American-style mah-jongg, you need 8 jokers. If you have a set and need extra tiles for it, try the Tiles For Sale bulletin board (link above left).

    I have four blank tiles could they be used?
    Sure. See FAQ 7R and FAQ 7T.

    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 9, 2014


    New book: "Searching For Bubbe Fischer," part 2

    Another new book has come out, and again it's one that I had a part in (a smaller part this week than the book I wrote about last week). The book is "Searching for Bubbe Fischer," by Karen Gooen.

    If you want to know more (and I hope you do), check out this week's column.
    Speaking of the column, I might not be able to write columns this month, since I'm moving (while teaching mah-jongg two days a week, and teaching video game quality assurance three days a week), and won't have hardly any free time until December.
    Tom Sloper
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 9, 2014


    Can she change her mind?

    >From: "embcain
    >Sent: Sunday, November 9, 2014 7:51 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg
    >If a discarded tile is called and touched by the player claiming it for an exposure, is that player then allowed to change his/her mind and not claim the tile?
    >Elizabeth

    Hi, Elizabeth.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: The "change of heart" FAQ is FAQ 19-AM. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    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 9, 2014


    Charity shop set

    >From: carol-ann m
    >Sent: Saturday, November 8, 2014 9:36 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Thank-you for your excellent site.
    >I bought a Mah Jong set from a charity shop and would like to know how old it is and what it is worth please.
    >I think it is early 1900s based on the instruction book that came with it, in which is inscribed the date 1938. I can't be sure, though, that this is the instruction book for this set. The tiles don't have European numbers on them so I think that means the set was made for the Asian market but the instructions are English. The box has drawers and a slide-on front so would that make the set 1920s?
    >The set contains:
    >Scoring sticks (good condition)
    >4 tiny dice in a box with sliding lid (very good condition)
    >4 wind indicators in a box with lid (good condition)
    >An instruction booklet with [hand]written date 1938. Printed in the booklet is "sixth impression, Sept 1937".
    >36 dots
    >36 bams
    >36 craks
    >16 winds (4x4)
    >12 dragons (3x4)
    >8 flower tiles
    >4 spare blank tiles
    >(All tiles good - very good condition)
    >Tiles made of bone and bamboo.
    >Tiles are 3 x 2.1 x 1.25 cm
    >The bone depth is 0.6 cm and 0.8cm at the dovetail.
    >There are a total of 148 tiles
    >It comes in a wooden box with 2 drawers and a slide-in front which is missing. The top drawer is in very good condition. The bottom drawer is in poor condition. The back of the box is in poor condition. The box itself (except for the back) is in very good condition. The brass is all there and in good condition.
    >I have attached 10 photos.
    >Thank-you very much in anticipation of your help,
    >Carol-Ann M
    >Manchester, England

    Hi, Carol-Ann.
    You did an excellent job of presenting me the details of your set. Thank you for doing your homework! You wanted to know:

    how old it is
    Although the pieces look like typical 1920s examples, the box is atypical (having just 2 drawers). Let's be conservative and say that the book is original to the set, and call it late 1930s. (But it could well be 1920s.)

    and what it is worth
    It's complete, and you yourself say everything is in just Good condition. The book is in only Fair condition. I've heard that old sets tend to go for more in the UK than they do here in the US. Its having no Western indices reduces the value, as does its condition and the condition of the book. So I'll hazard a guess and say it's worth somewhere around US$100, give or take. Less, if the box front is missing.

    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 8, 2014


    I was astounded!

    >From: Lucille
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 7:25 AM
    >Subject: Joker exchange
    >Question: Can two jokers be exchanged at one time from Four exposed tiles ? It happened in a Mah Jongg I was participating in,I was astounded .

    Hi, Lucille.
    It may astound you to know that this is a frequently-asked question (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-N, and be doubly astounded! After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 5, 2014


    New book: "Mah Jongg: The Art Of The Game"

    Just wanted to let folks know about a new book coming out in 2 weeks. I wrote part of it!

    If you want to know more (and I hope you do), check out this week's column.
    Speaking of the column, I might not be able to write columns this month, since I'm moving (while teaching mah-jongg two days a week, and teaching video game quality assurance three days a week), and won't have hardly any free time until December.
    Tom Sloper
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 2, 2014


    Tournament organizer questions from Singapore

    >From: Wei Jian T
    >Sent: Sunday, November 2, 2014 11:04 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong
    >Hello Tom,
    >I am reading your articles regards to mahjong as I am looking at organising a mahjong tournament.
    >However, I have this 2 questions which bothers me for many sleepless nights. Haha
    >Question A:
    >Lets say i am doing a tournament whereby players are assigned to a pre-allocated time slot. On the actual day of the tournament, 1 player decided to no-show and its 5min to the start of the session, what should I do with the other 3 participants??
    >Question B:
    >I am looking for professional judges / tournament directors, what is the cost involve and how can I get in touch with this group of specialist?
    >Thanks and really appreciate your kind assistance!
    >Best regards,
    >Wei Jian

    Hello, Wei Jian.
    To answer your questions, I needed to know where in the world you are, and (to answer your second question) what kind of mah-jongg you might be talking about. I saw that you also sent me a LinkedIn request, so I followed it to learn more about you. I see that you are a manager of casino marketing events at a resort in Singapore (important information I needed to know, in order to give you an answer). You asked:

    [what if] 1 player decided to no-show and its 5min to the start of the session, what should I do with the other 3 participants??
    This is a great question! You always need to have people standing by for such an eventuality (up to 3 substitute players, who might not be eligible to win a prize, as you see fit).

    I am looking for professional judges / tournament directors, what is the cost involve and how can I get in touch with this group of specialist?
    China isn't that far away from Singapore (not as far as America or Europe). I assume your tournament will use some Asian or Chinese rules (not American or Japanese rules). You would probably need to cover travel costs for your judges (airfare, hotel, meals, local transportation). I think if you contact people who've judged in China, they'd probably be delighted to do it. I have not been to a Chinese tournament in seven years, and it's going to be up to you to locate people and contact them (I can't help you by putting you in touch with them, and I don't think they are connected to my LinkedIn profile). You can read my accounts of my travels to China, and you can read accounts of international tournaments on mahjongnews.com, and you can look for reportage of past instances of the World Series of Mahjong, and you can try contacting people in the international mah-jongg community. If you are planning very far in advance (a year in advance, for instance), then you can hook into the community and find out about the next big tournament, and plan to attend it yourself. I'm sure you would find judges while you are there. I am going through an extremely busy time in my life right now and cannot help you beyond this reply. I wish you luck!

    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 2, 2014


    New book: "Bubbe Fischer"

    >From: Karen Gooen
    >Sent: Friday, October 31, 2014 1:52 PM
    >Subject: "Bubbe Fischer" is up on amazon
    >The print version of my book, "Bubbe Fischer, is now available, and the e-version will be up in a week or two. I'd appreciate it if you could put a little blurb on your website's (very long) list of mah jongg books.
    >Thanks!
    >Karen Gooen

    Hi, Karen.
    I'll be happy to add it to FAQ 3 after I've had a look at it. Crazy busy weekend ahead -- I probably won't even be able to write a column this week. Best of luck with your book!
    Tom Sloper
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Halloween, 2014


    Is "2014" a kong or four singles?

    >From: RoseAnn M
    >Sent: Friday, October 31, 2014 12:58 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can you call for a tile to make 2014 or are they consider singles? Can you use a joker in 2014?
    >Thanks for your reply
    >Ro

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

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Halloween, 2014


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

    >From: G G Travel Inc na <gysmith
    >Sent: Friday, October 31, 2014 10:57 AM
    >Subject: mah jongg question
    >Please clarify: mah jongg is called and exposed only to be in error...hand is dead...does hand go back on rack?
    >If not, are any jokers in dead hand up for exchange by other players? thanks

    Hello, gysmith. You asked:

    .does hand go back on rack?
    This question has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-AA.

    If not, are any jokers in dead hand up for exchange by other players?
    Please read FAQ 19-P. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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
    Halloween, 2014


    Same question

    From: tuttisra
    Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 10:56 AM
    Subject: A mah jong question
    The following discussion caused a quite heated debate on Monday night,please help! Player A throws a specific tile ( 4 dot e.g), player B then throws a joker and says "same" to which player C calls that they want the 4 dot that was thrown by player A. It was stated that this was a legal move because the person who threw joker said "same" and that made specific tile legal for pick up and exposure. Is that a legal mah jong rule? We do not believe this is legal but the person who stated this says his friends are experts and that this legal. Please clarify because if it is legal I will start saying "joker" when I throw out a joker Thank you in advance for your help in this matter. Sandi A

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

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 29, 2014


    Two players declared mah-jongg, and then...

    >From: Susan B
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 7:02 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >So two people wanted a tile for MahJongg. It went to the next player in line to play. She put up her MahJongg. The rest of us exposed our hands on our racks. Then we discovered that the MahJongg was a closed hand and she had previously taken a tile and exposed it. The next person in line said she should be able to call the tile now for MahJongg. I am thinking since we exposed our tiles that the game was over. Also if we hadn't exposed our tiles does the person that had an error in MahJongg then discard a tile. Any tile or the one she picked up? Or does she not discard and just declare her hand dead with 14 tiles in her rack?
    >Whew! Thanks MahJongg Expert.

    Let's go through the chronology, Susan:

    two people wanted a tile for MahJongg. It went to the next player in line to play.

    She put up her MahJongg.

    The rest of us exposed our hands on our racks.
    NO!! Not before doing step 3!! (Note: nobody did step 3, which is "everybody looked at the winning hand and confirmed that it was valid.") By the way, "the rest of us," I assume, includes she who claimed a win but wasn't next in line?

    Then we discovered that the MahJongg was a closed hand
    See, step 5 should have occurred as step 3 instead! Everybody at the table made a serious error when they did step 4. What do you do when everybody at the table is involved in an error that ruins the game? (Hint: see FAQ 9.) I hope everybody learned a lesson (the right lesson) from the experience! Verify before throwing in.

    The next person in line said she should be able to call the tile now for MahJongg.
    Yeah, might as well, I guess. It would be a travesty of justice otherwise. Read FAQ 19 H - look for the phrase "second claimant".

    I am thinking since we exposed our tiles that the game was over.
    If it was a tournament, yes. But to keep group harmony, let winner 2 have the win.

    Also if we hadn't exposed our tiles does the person that had an error in MahJongg then discard a tile.
    What? No. Read FAQ 19 BP.

    Any tile or the one she picked up?
    Moot question.

    Or does she not discard and just declare her hand dead with 14 tiles in her rack?
    Read FAQ 19 AC.

    Whew! Thanks MahJongg Expert.
    You're welcome. Please tell your group that they have to verify the win before exposing their hands.

    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 29, 2014


    The window of opportunity rule is not clearly explained

    >From: HW Q
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 9:11 AM
    >Subject: Window of Opportunity
    >Tom,
    >I have read everything you have written about the "window of opportunity," but our MJ group is still having a definite problem, and even your sage advice in your columns does not seem to alleviate the problem.

    >1. A tile is discarded.
    >2. The next player picks up and looks at the next tile but does not rack, discard, or call "Mah Jongg." This player holds the tile in her hand.
    >3. Another player wants the discarded tile and calls for it.
    >4. The player who has picked up the tile and looked at it says, "You can’t take it because I have looked at the next tile."
    >Can you please help us resolve this problem?
    >Half of us think that if a person has just looked at the tile, the window of opportunity is still open.
    >The other half thinks that because a person has looked at the tile (but not racked, discarded, or called "Mah Jongg"), the window of opportunity is closed.
    >We are at an impasse. Please help!
    >Thank you,
    >Beth

    Hi, Beth. You wrote:

    I have read everything you have written about the "window of opportunity," but our MJ group is still having a definite problem... The player who has picked up the tile and looked at it says, "You can’t take it because I have looked at the next tile."
    >Half of us think that if a person has just looked at the tile, the window of opportunity is still open.
    >The other half thinks that because a person has looked at the tile (but not racked, discarded, or called "Mah Jongg"), the window of opportunity is closed.
    I said, very clearly, in FAQ 19C:

      If you pick a tile from the wall and are just looking at it and thinking about it, or reaching with it anywhere, another player can still call the live discard...

    And I said, at the bottom of FAQ 19 (in the section "MORE About Commonly Misunderstood Rules; The Window of Opportunity":

      Her taking and looking at the picked tile did NOT close the window of opportunity on the live discard - anybody can still call it!

    And I wrote in column 458:

      The window of opportunity doesn’t close, then, when the player next in order lifts the next tile from the wall (or slides it, which is essentially the same thing), or when she looks at the tile (as many people seem to think)...

    So what's the problem? I said this at least three times, so I think I answered this question sufficiently. If half of your group simply won't take my word for it, then you should send a self-addressed stamped envelope with your question to the League. See FAQ 19 BN.

    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, 2014


    in American MahJongg can we use flowers

    >From: Dolores P
    >Sent: Monday, October 27, 2014 1:55 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: in American MahJongg can we use flowers

    Hi, Dolores.
    You say you play American mah-jongg (that's the National Mah Jongg League game). Look at the NMJL card. See those FFs and those FFFFs? When you see "F" on the card, that means a flower tile is required.

    If you play some other variant (not NMJL but some other "American" variant), tell me more about what variant you play. 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 2, 2014


    Question... Never mind, I found it in the FAQs

    >From: Dowlen L
    >Sent: Monday, October 27, 2014 12:22 PM
    >Subject: Question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Love your books and website.
    >Question:
    >In playing American MJ, a player calls for a discarded tile and exposes part of her hand with that tile. She did not Mah Jongg and only exposed part of her hand. We considered her dead because she picked up a tile while playing a concealed hand. She left the exposed tiles on the top of her rack. Can another player exchange a Joker from her exposed tiles? Some say "no" because it was a concealed hand while others say "the Joker is still alive". Help!
    >Love,
    >Linda

    >From: Dowlen L
    >Sent: Monday, October 27, 2014 12:27 PM
    >Subject: Never mind my question. I found your answer. Thanks
    >Love,
    >Linda

    Linda, I LOVE it when somebody finds her answer! (^_^)
    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, 2014


    FAQ 19G and column 353

    >From: Kathryn C
    >Sent: Sunday, October 26, 2014 3:34 PM
    >Subject: Stealing joker
    >Hi Tom,
    >If it is my turn and the player before me throws a tile that can be exchanged for another players exposed joker, may I call that tile and exchange it for their joker?
    >Thanks
    >Kathryn

    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-G. 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!
    Also, read column 353.
    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 26, 2014


    Can a dead player call another player dead?

    >From: Barbara M
    >Sent: Saturday, October 25, 2014 1:26 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I was playing and I was called dead and I ceased playing. I noticed one of the remaining players was also dead, can I call her dead? (Remember I'm not playing - dead)
    >Thanks
    >Barbara

    Barbara, I tip my hat to you because I've never heard this question before! Which means I have never seen the League rule on this question. I know that a bettor is not permitted to comment on an ongoing game, and a dead player can be thought of as similar to a bettor (only without the betting part). I would have to say no. You must not say anything. It's up to the surviving players to pay attention to what's going on at their table. Great 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 25, 2014


    How can I possibly get all the advice you've given, without reading 11 years' worth of columns??

    >From: Marcia D
    >Sent: Friday, October 24, 2014 7:34 AM
    >Subject: question about your columns
    >Fairly new to mahjong and just discovered your site and its very very informative. I have won a few games as a beginner but im ready to move on to bigger hands and i refuse to let myself play the usual hand that i so often fall back on. I dont like to hold anyone up, so I just go with it. I am learning very slowly how to go with the flow. With this strategy I have not won any games.
    >Reading through your columns, I see they go way back to 2003?? Is there any repeat in your advice during the columns or should i scroll through, by way of the subject line?
    >Thanks
    >Marci

    Hi, Marci.
    Most of the NMJL columns are card-specific. If you read a 2009 column and you don't have the 2009 card, you won't get a lot out of it. Strategic information that applies to multiple cards gets repeated when necessary when a new card comes out. I suppose there may be some nuggets to be found in a card-specific column, but personally I wouldn't want to go hunting for them. You should be able to figure out pretty quickly if a column is going to be one of those card-specific ones or not. Happy hunting!
    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 24, 2014


    Frequently Asked Question 19-G

    >From: Dennis
    >Sent: Friday, October 24, 2014 4:08 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I think I know the answer to this question but need confirmation.
    >Can I take a discarded tile to replace my joker in my existing exposure
    >and then discard my joker in order to get a jokerless hand?
    >I think not.
    >Thanks Tom
    >Dennis

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

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 24, 2014


    How do you score sequences in Fosters 20-Point Mah Jong, part 3

    >From: Dawn B
    >To: Mah Jong Tom SlopeR<--
    >Sent: Friday, October 24, 2014 6:41 AM
    >Subject: Scoring Chows Foster's Twenty Point
    >Well, yes please check. Foster's score sheet ...I don't have the book I have printed sheets but don't know where I got them:(((
    >Yes please address initial question on scoring chows:)
    >see attachment:)
    >initial correspondence and your 2nd reply
    >thank you
    >Dawn

    Hi, Dawn.
    Zooming in on your Fosters scoring card, I can see right away that Foster does score "sequences." And he permits sequences of 3, 6, and 9 tiles.

    Now we need to figure out if a sequence of 6 (your question) is two chows, or one exposable sequence of 6. So I have to look in the book. And, on page 46, I find something surprising (not the answer to the question, but an interesting fact) - "open" and "closed" don't mean "exposed" and "concealed." They refer to whether or not terminals are in the grouping. "Open" sequences are made with simples only (no terminals), and "closed" sequences have a terminal (a 1 or a 9) at one end.
    So I kept looking for the answer to your question. On page 42, a "sequence" is defined as "not more or less than three tiles in numerical order." So, a sequence of 6 is two chows. And he continues to say that a concealed set can be called "concealed," "in hand," or "in rack," while exposed sets may be called "grounded," or "on the table." The left column in the score card shows the value for a grounded (exposed) set, and the right column shows the value for a concealed set.

    So, I think you can figure out, now that you understand what his terminology means, the answer to your question. Your 6-tile sequence (called a "Short Straight" in MCR) without terminals has a value of 4 if it's exposed, and a value of 8 if it's concealed. You can see that a chow without terminals by itself is worth 2 if exposed, and 4 if concealed. The only thing that makes sense to me is that you can claim points for the two chows, AND add points for the Short Straight. Since one of your chows is exposed, the Short Straight is exposed ("grounded"). So 2+4 for the two chows of simples (one concealed and one exposed), plus 4 for it being a Short Straight (exposed).

    By the way, in your previous email you said Foster's card was copyright 1974. That's incorrect: it's 1924. I don't think Foster's 20-point variant caught on, since his book came out just as the mah-jongg fad was dying.

    P.S. Your other email, your quest for a particular type of set, has been posted in the Sets Wanted board, not here on this Q&A board.

    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 24, 2014


    How do you score chows in CC, part 2

    >From: Dawn B
    >To: Mah Jong Tom Slope[r]
    >Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 12:21 PM
    >Subject: Scoring sequences using Foster's Twenty Point Score Card
    >Hi Tom,
    >Perhaps I don't know what variation of Mah Jong we are playing after all. What we are using is :
    >Foster's Twenty Point Score Card (copyright, 1974, by R.F. Foster)
    >my initial exchange with you on this follows.
    >Thank you,
    >Dawn B

    Hi, Dawn.
    If you're using Foster's Twenty Point system, then you are playing Foster's Twenty Point mah-jongg. Do you have only the card, or do you also have the book? Is your question still how to score a short straight (all concealed, half concealed)? I have the book, and if you want I can double-check, but if your card doesn't say anything about scoring chows, then it's because (as I said last time) chows are useful for completing a hand, but are valueless as to scoring. Foster's 20-point game was an offshoot of Chinese Classical, written just as the mah-jongg fad was fading.

    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 23, 2014


    FAQ 19P combined with FAQ 19-AC

    >From: Brenda C
    >Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 9:42 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    >If a player declares mah jong and displays tiles with jokers and then calls herself dead because she realized she didn't mah Jongg and proceeds to put all the tiles back in her rack. Can you still redeem the jokers she had displayed?Remember she called herself dead.

    Hi, Brenda. You asked:

    Can you still redeem the jokers she had displayed?
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-P.

    Remember she called herself dead.
    Please read FAQ 19-AC. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 23, 2014


    Can I peek, part 2 (or is it part 4)

    >From: Karen G
    >Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 10:06 AM
    >Subject: Re: Re: Re: Question on blind pass
    >Thanks so much!
    >Karen
    >Karen G


    Can I peek at the tiles I'm "blind-passing"?

    >From: Karen G
    >Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 8:13 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: During the blind passes, after the player passes the three tiles to the next player, can the player who passes the tiles take a peek and look at the tiles?
    >The information contained in this transmission contains privileged and confidential information. It is intended only for the use of the person named above. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any review, dissemination, distribution or duplication of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.
    >CAUTION: Intended recipients should NOT use email communication for emergent or urgent health care matters.

    >From: Karen G
    >Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 8:22 AM
    >Subject: Re: Re: Question on blind pass
    >For example, if you steel two tiles and pass one of your own tiles to the player on your right at the last right during the second charleston, is it okay to take a peek at the ties that you stole to see if you could have used them?
    > Karen G
    > On 10/23/14, Karen G wrote:
    > During the blind pass, is it okay to look at the tiles after you pass them and before the other player racks them?
    >Karen G

    Hi, Karen. I guess I hadn't yet emailed you to let you know I'd posted a response here, the first time you emailed me (that response is below, beneath the responses to Jody and Nathan). I gave you a simple answer to your first question, but now you've reworded your question:

    is it okay to take a peek at the ties that you stole to see if you could have used them?
    The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-AW. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 2, 2014
    Terms of service and privacy policy: The free service that I offer is limited to what you see here on this website. I answer questions submitted by email ONLY (I do not do telephone Q&A), and I never give free private answers. "When you email me, I own it." The price of the information I give is that it is given only in this public forum. Your email may be edited before posting.
    No information you provide through this website shall be deemed confidential. Emailing me with a question or comment on this topic constitutes your permission for your words to be made public. (Business inquiries and scholar/journalist queries are of course treated with all due confidentiality.) Your last name and email address will usually be omitted (exceptions: Find Players/Teachers posts, buyer/seller posts, and event organizer posts).


    Color-blindness

    >From: Jody and Ray B
    >Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 7:39 AM
    >Subject: American Mah Jongg Sets for Color Blind Players
    >Hi Tom:
    >I am a new teacher for American Mah Jongg in the city of St. Louis Park, MN. I recently found your website and was looking at your entries for sight impaired players. Where the Winds Blow recently developed a set with large numbers and letters as well as the words to identify each of the dragons. I noted you mentioned that company, so thought you might want to update your site with their information for color blind players. The dragons are an ancient Chinese style dragon but the name of the color is printed on the tile. http://wherethewindsblow.com
    >I am looking for instructional information on how to teach the NMJL card, so will be further searching your site. Thanks for a comprehensive resource!
    >Jody B

    Okay, thanks for the update, Jody. I'll append your email to FAQ 7-S.
    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 23, 2014


    You should update FAQ 5

    >From: Nathan T
    >To: tomster@sloperama
    >Cc: sigmasoftware@nmjl
    >Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 5:09 AM
    >Subject: Playing Mah Jongg against a computer
    >Tom,
    >First let me say that I really enjoy your weekly column. I have only been playing Mah Jongg for a little over 2 years and only learned because my 2 grandsons learned a few years ago when they were 11 and they are really good. My wife had been telling me for years that I would like the game but I viewed it as a game for Jewish women. Boy, was I wrong.
    >I love the game and play 3 times a week besides playing against the computer almost every day. I play well over 100 games a month against the computer and that bring me to the reason for writing this email.
    >You need to correct your FAQ#5, see your statement below. First, the game is $45 a year and although the current games lets you play against the computer, the other three "hands" are only picking and throwing. The test version of next years game will replace both the online version of play against 3 people as well as a version in which one can play against the computer. When playing against the computer, the other 3 hands are actually playing computer. "Their" skill level will improve as the programmer enhances the capability. Since discovering the 2015 computer version, I rarely play against other people on the computer. I find this game extremely useful in providing a mechanism to use and learn the card. Some folks I play against, play the same few hands over and over again. I have learned the card so well that I only need to make 5 more hands to complete the card and I have already made all the concealed hand.
    >Keep up your good work. Maybe you can get the NMJL to mention your site. I only discovered it by accident when searching on the word Mah Jongg.
    >Nathan T

      National Mah Jongg League (Sigma Software): http://www.nmjl.org/software/. You have to pay a $30 yearly subscription, then download the program, then the game is played via the internet. Playable against live opponents only (this game does not have any A.I. bots to play against), who can be a little trying sometimes, but hang in there. Also works on Macintosh computers if you use Crossover by Codeweavers (links on the NMJL website) (thanks to Amy C for the info).

    Thanks for the info, Nathan. I've now made the change.

      National Mah Jongg League (Sigma Software): http://www.nmjl.org/software/. You have to pay a yearly subscription ($45 as of 2014), then download the program, then the game is played via the internet. Playable against live opponents only at present (2014). The live opponents can be a little trying sometimes, but hang in there. I hear that starting in 2015, there are A.I. opponents too, but the A.I. opponents may not be using much "intelligence" in their play (likely to improve as Sigma continues improving the software). Also works on Macintosh computers if you use Crossover by Codeweavers (links on the NMJL website). (Thanks to Amy C and Nathan T for the info herein).
    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 23, 2014


    Do I have to wait for her to rack before I look at my tiles?

    >From: Karen G
    >Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 3:13 AM
    >Subject: Question on blind pass
    > During the blind pass, is it okay to look at the tiles after you pass them and before the other player racks them?
    >Karen G

    Hi, Karen.
    After you have passed the tiles you are not keeping, you can look at the tiles you are keeping. Why should you have to wait for the person to whom you are passing tiles? It wouldn't make sense to have to wait for her to do something.
    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 23, 2014


    Who gets the tile?

    >From: Wendy C
    >Cc: Viki Z; Jean M; Cori D; Diane H
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 11:40 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A- Let's ask the expert
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Two players simultaneously call for a discard.
    >The player next in turn says- 'Wait'
    >The other player says- 'Call'
    >Who gets the tile?
    >Thank You

    Hi Ladies,
    There is no "wait" rule in American mah-jongg. It's common, though, to say "wait." But "wait" is not a claim for a tile - it's nothing but a request for a moment to work through temporary indecision. In your case, the PNIT (player next in turn) said "wait," and it's common to grant wait requests so someone can be indecisive while everybody else does nothing. Right? Another player said "call," but she is not the PNIT, so she has to wait while the PNIT has her indecisive moment. The PNIT has first claim, under the rules. If PNIT says "no, never mind," then the other player can have it. If PNIT says "the long wait is over, thank you, and I'll take it," then it's hers, because the rule is that the PNIT gets the tile. There is no rule to enforce waiting, but there's no official ground to deny a wait request, either - it's common to honor wait requests. In the absence of an official rule, we have to go by common practice.
    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 22, 2014


    What the heck are these mystery cards, part 2

    >From: Elaine W
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 4:44 PM
    >Subject: Re:
    >Thanks for all the info--it helped greatly. Elaine

    I'm glad it helped, Elaine. I'm still curious what the other 26 cards in the deck were! (^_^) Maybe Vietnamese jokers?
    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 22, 2014


    What the heck are these mystery cards in my deck?

    >From: Elaine W
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 5:35 PM
    >Subject:
    >I recently purchased a pkg of Mah Jongg cards a set of 178 cards---no instructions. I assume you play the cards the same as the tiles but there seem to be 10 jokes instead of
    >8 and there are 4 each of C-F-& P.( have no idea what they stand for. ) . Do you know where I could get instructions for this set of cards? Thanks, Elaine W

    Hi Elaine, you wrote:

    Mah Jongg cards a set of 178 cards- ... there seem to be 10 jokes instead of
    >8 and there are 4 each of C-F-& P.
    So that would come out to 154 (assuming you have 8 flower cards). What are your other 24 cards? Do you have, like, 32 flower cards? You need to lay out your cards in a "big square." See column 492.

    Then take any cards you don't need for American mah-jongg and put them back in the box the cards came in. See "Frequently Asked Question" 7b if you don't know how many cards you should use for American mah-jongg.

    there are 4 each of C-F-& P.( have no idea what they stand for. ) .
    Read FAQ 7e, "Those Mysterious Special Tiles That Come in Some Mah-Jongg Sets." (Hint: look for the phrase "what the Chinese writing on mah-jongg tiles means.")

    Do you know where I could get instructions for this set of cards?
    What kind of instructions could you need? You know that you don't have to build walls with the cards, and that you can simply stack them. You know that you can fan the cards in your hand, so you don't need to use racks. You already know how to play mah-jongg, so what kind of instructions are you looking for?

    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 21, 2014


    Donation

    >From: donna e via PayPal
    >Sent: Friday, October 17, 2014 10:58 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from donna e
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from donna e. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Confirmation number: #############
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: donna e
    >Message: Thank you for your wonderful web site!! Donna
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Donna,
    Thank you very much for the donation!
    May the tiles be with you!
    Tom

    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 20, 2014


    Frequently Asked Question 19E

    >From: Susan C
    >Sent: Saturday, October 18, 2014 12:47 AM
    >Subject: Re: Hello
    >Tom,
    >I saw on your site that it says you can't pick
    >Up a discarded tile for
    >News and 2014. Can you pickup a discarded tile for that
    >Those two if you are going mah jongg!
    >Thanks,
    >Susan

    Hi, Susan.
    As I told Karen S when she asked this question on Thursday (below), you can find the answer in the FAQs. Read FAQ 19-E. Make sure you read the entire answer, not just the first couple of sentences. An incomplete reading of an FAQ will give you an incomplete answer! See the third part (FAQ 19-E3).
    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 19, 2014


    Do I have to wait for my turn to call someone dead?

    >From: Emily Z
    >Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2014 4:04 PM
    >Subject: Declaring MJ opponent dead
    >My turn ends when I discard. My opponent has exposed 9 dot kong and 5 dot pung. She's playing 1 3 5 7 9 dots. There are 2 1-dots on the table. I discard the third. Can I legally call her dead at that time or is my turn over and I must wait for my next turn?
    >Thank you very much.
    >Emily Z
    >Venice, FL

    Emily, you can call someone dead anytime. You don't have to wait until it's your turn. Maybe this misconception is what's behind BklynIrene's problem! (October 12, below)
    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 16, 2014


    Frequently Asked Question 19E

    >From: Karen S
    >Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2014 8:34 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can you pick up the 4 for 2014 for mah jong?

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

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 16, 2014


    How do you score chows in CC?

    >From: Dawn B
    >To: Mah Jong Tom Slope <Tom@Sloperama
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 9:04 PM
    >Subject: Scoring Classical Chinese sequences
    >Hi Tom,
    >How do you score sequences 1-6bamboo say when the 123bamboo is in hand and the 456bamboo is grounded? In order to get the score for the run...does the entire run need to be in hand or grounded? or is it ok for them to be split? if split how would we score it?
    >Thank you,
    >Dawn
    >--
    >I’m Believing God,
    >Dawn

    Hi, Dawn.
    The answer is, "you don't." Chows are worthless in Chinese Classical.
    Are you sure you play CC? There's no such thing as a 1-6 run (Two Sequential Chows) in CC. There is in MCR (Chinese Official), but not in CC. Do you use a book as your guide? If so, tell me the author's name, and the book's title. Do you use a website as your guide? If so, tell me the web address.
    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 15, 2014


    How do we handle a slow player? (FAQ 19-BA)

    >From: Janet F
    >Cc: dennice418
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 3:49 PM
    >Subject: RE: Moving your tiles around when it is your turn
    >Tom,
    >Thank you for your most prompt answer. I think I will be able to bring a timer in the guise of teaching our new players how long they are taking, as we definitely have more patients for the newbies.
    >May the jokers find their way onto your rack.
    >Janet

    You're welcome, Janet.
    I think using a timer without forthrightly talking to your slow player is not going to work. You have a "rule" (in quotes because it's never enforced) that she's not allowed to do what she does, but she doesn't care - she still does it anyway. You can say "here's a timer, but it's not for you, it's for the new people," and that just reinforces her idea that she can just blithely continue to violate the rule (that it doesn't apply to her, because she's entitled to take all the time she thinks she needs).
    The problem is that you're afraid to talk to her frankly about how she's slowing down the game for everybody else. And she's bullheadedly trying to win, no matter how much discomfort it may cause everyone else at the table. To her, winning is more important than your feelings.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    October 14, 2014

    [Inspired by this Q&A, I wrote column #621 on the psychology of slow players. http://sloperama.com/mahjongg/column2/column621.htm (use http://sloperama.com/mahjongg/column2/column621.html if you're on a mobile phone).
    Also see column 375 on how to handle slow players (written in 2008). http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/column375a.htm (or http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/column375a.html if you're on a mobile phone).]


    How do we handle a slow player? (FAQ 19-BA)

    > From: Janet F
    > Cc: dennice418
    > Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 1:11 PM
    > Subject: Moving your tiles around when it is your turn
    >We have a house rule, and I am hoping that it is either a "real" rule or at least a "courtesy" rule, that we do not move our tiles around on our racks when it is our turn. We have one player who moves them around sometimes forming what seems to be 4 to 5 different hand options. This is very time consuming and annoying to the rest of us. We have welcomed some new players into our group recently and mentioned that house rule over and over, but our "seasoned" player just keeps doing it. Even the "newbies" are giving her strange looks.
    >Janet F
    > lucypink

    Hi, Janet. You wrote:

    I am hoping that it is either a "real" rule or at least a "courtesy" rule
    There's nothing about it in the official written rules. Therefore it's a "table rule" (a rule that exists only at your table). And of course it's about courtesy (that's why you created it).

    This is very time consuming and annoying to the rest of us.
    Of course it is! She is being very inconsiderate.

    Any suggestions?
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19-BA. You'll find links to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ #19.

    A thought I didn't put in the FAQ: if you go with the sand timer, then if she doesn't discard a tile, someone can take a tile from her rack and discard it for her. Problem with this idea is that it's not harmonious. But she's already creating disharmony, and your only choices are to either live with it or escalate it. Living with it has not worked, but escalating it probably will solve the problem, one way or another.

    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 14, 2014


    How long can a player take to decide whether another player is dead?

    >From: bklynirene
    >Sent: Sunday, October 12, 2014 12:49 PM
    >Subject: Question about MJ situation
    >Hello Tom!
    > I would like your take on this situation and question I am asking.
    > Jane had one exposure and then called a tile to form a second exposure. Next player, Carol, picked her tile and threw. The next player, Sandy, said, "Wait, I cannot find Jane's hand on the card." Sandy continued to hold up the game as she looked throughout the card. The fourth player, Mona, said, "Sandy, you cannot halt the game as you look for Jane's hand." Sandy then replied, "I think Jane is dead. I want to make sure."
    > The question is: Can a player have unlimited time -- to look over the card to decide whether or not to make a "death challenge" or is there an acceptable time limit?
    > Thank you for your always insightful answer. Irene

    Hi, Irene! I'm guessing you're from Brooklyn. You asked:

    Mona, said, "Sandy, you cannot halt the game as you look for Jane's hand."
    Mona is absolutely correct.

    Sandy then replied, "I think Jane is dead. I want to make sure."
    Jane should have said, right then and there, either "Yes, I'm dead," or "No, I'm not dead." See FAQ 19-AB. Sandy issued a wussy death challenge, but it was a death challenge nonetheless (she brought the idea to the fore of everyone's minds). In my opinion, you can't wuss on a death challenge. If you utter the word "dead," you've issued the challenge, and the challengee must respond.

    Can a player have unlimited time -- to look over the card to decide whether or not to make a "death challenge"
    Yes, she can. But what Mona said. Sandy doesn't get to hold up the game; that'd be just wacko. Sandy can take all the time she needs, but on her own time while the game continues.

    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 12, 2014

    [P.S. Maybe Sandy thinks you have to issue a death challenge on your turn - that's a misconception I addressed with Emily Z's question on October 16, above. - Tom]


    When did they stop, part 2

    >From: "Puffins
    >Sent: Friday, October 10, 2014 10:22 PM
    >Subject: Re: Question - racks and tiles?
    >Thanks Tom! That was very fast.
    >Perhaps I wasn't clear on my question but basically I was curious if "those tiles" came with "those racks" or if they were "piece mealed" together. I loaded the set to a friend after teaching a class today so I can't take a picture of it all together.
    >I'll do that for you when I get it back.
    >Thanks and I will make a donation!

    I'd appreciate that, Donna!
    Tom Sloper

    10/10/2014


    When did they stop including 5 racks?

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Friday, October 10, 2014 10:52 AM
    >Subject: Question - racks and tiles?
    >Tom hi,
    >Your website is so full of wonderful information and I learn a lot from reading it. Keep doing the great job you do!!
    >My question-
    >I inherited a set recently and there are 5 racks and the tiles have 8 jokers. I know 8 jokers were about 1971 but when did they stop making 5 racks with a set? I'm just curious if these tiles actually came with these racks? The case has no markings on it. The racks might be catalin since they are heavier than the current racks you would typically buy these days.
    >Thank you so much,
    >Donna in California

    Hi, Donna. You asked:

    when did they stop making 5 racks with a set?
    I do not have access to that kind of information. And I don't think it's safe to assume that every manufacturer stopped providing 5 racks at the same time, or even that every manufacturer provided 5 racks. But what is the underlying question (the question behind your question, the reason for your question)? If the purpose of your email is to learn when "they" (every mah-jongg manufacturer who ever made American-style mah-jongg sets with 5 racks) stopped including 5 racks, all I can say is "I don't know."

    I'm just curious if these tiles actually came with these racks?
    That I don't know either. If I could have seen the tiles and the racks in the case, with the trays that contain the tiles, and everything else in the set, maybe I could hazard a guess. Those catalin racks might have been made in America (I don't know if catalin racks were ever made in China, or if the Chinese manufacturers went right to other kinds of plastic when they started making racks for use in America). Those tiles might have been made in China, based on American tile imagery (or they might have been made in America, like those racks). I think you should check CHarli's website; she's the expert on manufacturers of American-style sets.

    As for the five racks, consider why there were five in the first place. It was a common practice to have a fifth player, who rotated in and out of the game -- and to actually use the chips, which were stored on the chip prongs on the left end of the rack. One needed to keep one's rack when rotating out of the game, and back in, because it contained one's score.

    Perhaps the chips stopped being used at the same time the scoring system changed. See the post from Seymour & Boots, on September 15; the score system changed in 1970. Now that scores were in 2-digit amounts, with 25 as the lowest common denominator, it may have become easier to use quarters, dimes, and nickels to pay one another rather than to tally up chips (much less have to add up chips to amounts like 120 or 240) and then convert to cash, assuming people played for cash then).

    Perhaps after 1970 people stopped using chips, and the fifth rack was no longer necessary. Certainly, manufacturing cost is reduced considerably when one less rack is provided -- and the price reduction passes savings along to the customer who's now buying a less expensive mah-jongg set.

    So: check with CHarli, she might be able to fill in some gaps as to where your set was made, or if it's a Frankenstein. Or even when the set was made, and where.

    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 10, 2014


    Can I call myself dead? (FAQ 19-AC)

    >From: Rosalie
    >Sent: Saturday, October 4, 2014 4:19 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:is there a rule pertaining to "calling yourself dead"? What would be the advantage or disadvantage to doing it? thanks

    Welcome to my website, Rosalie. You asked:

    is there a rule pertaining to "calling yourself dead"?
    The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-AC. 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!

    What would be the advantage or disadvantage to doing it?
    Since it's against the rules anyway, does it matter? I imagine the reason for the rule is to encourage all players to be observant.

    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, 2014


    What if I'm dealer and I have a complete hand before the Charleston?

    >From: Michele D
    >Sent: Monday, September 29, 2014 11:14 AM
    >Subject: Heavenly hand/charleston
    >In the unlikely event that I have a heavenly hand, am I required to participate in the Charleston? What if I am dealt 11 tiles toward mah jong, and a Charleston would make me give up part of that? Can I ever decline to participate in a Charleston?
    >Thanks
    >Michele D

    Hi, Michelle.
    I checked FAQ 19-BJ and column 476, and I was not satisfied with what I found there, so I rewrote FAQ 19-BJ. Maybe I should write a new column, too! To respond directly to your email:

    In the unlikely event that I have a heavenly hand, am I required to participate in the Charleston?
    You should declare mah-jongg immediately - there will be no Charleston.

    What if I am dealt 11 tiles toward mah jong
    This ain't horseshoes. "Almost" does not negate the Charleston.

    Can I ever decline to participate in a Charleston?
    Look on the back of the card: it says the first Charleston is "compulsory." It also says that in the official rulebook.

    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
    September 29, 2014


    I need clear stickers

    >From: Barbara S
    >Sent: Monday, September 29, 2014 11:51 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:I need clear stickers for making tiles of blanks. White will not work because some of tiles are butterscotch. Thanks

    I'm not clear on what it is you're looking for or what you're trying to do, Barbara. But you will not find clear stickers in a mah-jongg shop - you need to check office supply stores. Good luck with whatever it is you're trying to do!
    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
    September 2, 2014


    Interviewed on Chinese-language TV about American mah-jongg - video online

    I was recently interviewed by SinoVision. This followed after an interview that appeared in the China Press (uschinapress.com), in the August 24 edition in California. The TV interview is now online.

    The reporters from the newspaper and the TV channel were interested in how mah-jongg is played, American-style. I showed how American tiles differ slightly from Chinese tiles, while telling the history of how mah-jongg came to America and was adapted for female players by the National Mah Jongg League.

    I knew the reporters would want to see some players in action, so I referred them to Judi Nachenberg, who organizes tournaments in the L.A. area.

    Game footage was shot at the Nachenberg home.

    You can view two stories at sinovision.net:
    http://video.sinovision.net/?id=24552&cid=122
    http://video.sinovision.net/?id=24550&cid=122
    I don't understand Chinese, so all I know is that the reporter in one piece mispronounced my name!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 28, 2014


    A discard was misnamed, causing a problem. What now? (FAQ 19-AY)

    >From: "Mjacknow
    >Cc: mjacknow
    >Sent: Friday, September 26, 2014 8:27 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If I throw a tile and mis-name it and someone calls the mis-named tile for an exposure - what, if any, is the penalty to me for mis-naming the tile?
    >(and of course everyone at the table knows what tile she needs)
    >Thanks so much for your answer.
    >Marion
    >mjacknow
    >"We make a living by what we get,
    >but we make a life by what we give."
    >Winston Churchill

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

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 26, 2014


    Two people claimed mahj; what if the first in line was in error?

    >From: Cathy B
    >Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2014 4:53 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jong Question
    >When two people call a tile for Mah Jong, and the person who’s turn is next gets it, what happens when she exposes her hand and she did not have Mah Jong. Does the other person who had called that tile get it for the win, or is the hand dead along with the called tile? What if it’s not that person’s turn next? Would that make a difference?
    >Thank you!
    >Cathy

    Hi, Cathy.
    The League wrote about this rule in the 2005 newsletter, and I've shared the rule in FAQ 19. Please read FAQ 19-I. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 25, 2014


    What is her secret code, part 2

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2014 9:46 AM
    >Subject: "sideways tiles"
    >Hi Tom,
    >I was puzzled by your answer to Susan 's question (Sept 20). I occasionally use a "sideways" tile to remind myself that:
    > 1. two of these tiles have already been discarded --OR--
    > 2. this tile is needed for "option B" if I am undecided between 2 hands--so I should not discard it.
    >So far, no one has interpreted my "secret code" and it serves as a reminder to me to be cautious about my "sideways" tile. (When you get to be my age, these reminders can be crucial!) Since you listed 4 different scenarios of the possible meaning of the sideways tile (and there may be more), why would you caution Susan not to do this? I can't see that it reveals anything in particular to one's opponent but I defer to your expertise!
    >Thanks, Linda

    Hi, Linda.
    You think nobody has deciphered your "code," but maybe someone has, and maybe someone will. In a 5-player game, there may be a bettor, who can watch you closely and figure out what the sideways tiles mean. Or maybe someone very observant and analytical might join your game and figure it out (whilst your current group hasn't yet been able to, or so you think).
    Gaps in the hand have meaning for you, and can be deciphered by an opponent. Sideways tiles also. I know players who turn tiles upside-down, since that's information visible to them but not to others (with the exception of a bettor).* As Susan B said, although she's new to the game, she can tell that "obviously she is marking something [by turning tiles sideways]." I have encountered newb players who simply ask the other player "what's the significance of your upside-down [or sideways] tiles?" And often a straightforward answer is given back! I suppose you would give a sly smile and say "that's for me to know and you not to find out." But many are not like you.
    It's unwise to give any information to others (sideways, gaps, spoken, whatever), but hey, if you don't care that you're revealing information, then that's your business.
    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
    September 24, 2014

    * Personally, I do not worry whether my tiles are right-side-up or upside down - a trick I learned playing with Japanese players. I have often had fifth players watch me play and ask me the significance of my upside down tiles. My honest answer: "No significance. I just don't spend time turning them all same way up, since I don't care if they're upside down or not." But once in a while, I may turn some this way or that way on purpose, when dealing with a particularly vexing hand. But never sideways (although I have been tempted).


    Can I expose a 2014? (FAQ 19-E1)

    >From: Nancy L
    >Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 10:28 PM
    >Subject: 2014
    >I am holding a 2 and 4 dot and a soap.......the player on my left discards the 1 dot. May I call it to complete and declare my 2014 ?
    >Thank you. We are fairly new players and could not find this answer any place.
    >nancy.l

    Could not find it, eh? You apparently didn't check FAQ 19.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-E1. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 23, 2014


    I misnamed a discard, causing a problem. What now? (FAQ 19-AY)

    >From: swarren l
    >Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 6:42 PM
    >Subject: NMJL Rules
    >Hello Tom,
    >NMJL rule dealing with a mis-called tile.
    >If I discard a 2bam, but call it a 2dot (or anything else), the rule says that someone may call that tile for MahJongg. The rule also says that if I actually have the tile I called in my hand, then I must discard that tile instead.
    >Regard my opponent calling Mah Jongg, to which tile does the rule apply?
    >A mis-called tile that does not exist? or
    >The tile that was physically discarded, or
    >The mis-called tile that is in fact in my hand, and must be played if i have it?
    >thank you,
    >swarren l

    Hi, Swarren. You wrote (with some edits to some otherwise possibly confusing words):

    If I discard a 2bam, but [name] it a 2dot (or anything else), the rule says that someone may call that tile for MahJongg.
    Not precisely how the rule is intended. (I think it's questionable to look at the tile, see that it's misnamed, and then say "mah-jongg on what you said, not on what you discarded.") Most players foolishly do not look but rather only listen, and someone who's been misled by the verbalization has unintentionally revealed what she needs, and that's the situation governed by the actual rule. Although I suppose the rule does permit one to knowingly declare a win on the discard as it was misnamed (as opposed to what it really is).

    The rule also says that if I actually have the tile I [named] in my hand, then I must discard that tile instead.
    Tell me where this rule is written, because (forgive me) I do not believe you will find that rule in any official NMJL document currently in effect.

    Regard[ing] my opponent calling Mah Jongg, to which tile does the rule apply?
    >A mis-[name]d tile that does not exist? or
    >The tile that was physically discarded, or
    >The mis-[name]d tile that is in fact in my hand, and must be played if i have it?
    You can read the actual official rules about what happens when the discarder misnames a discard in FAQ 19-AY. I believe you've been to this site before, so you should be able to locate FAQ 19. You can also look in the official NMJL rulebook on page 17, rule 6.

    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
    September 2, 2014


    I exposed a tile from my hand, part 2

    >From: Judy H
    >Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 6:19 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >thanks
    >Judy H


    I exposed a tile from my hand, and had a change of heart. What now?

    >From: Judy H
    >Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 4:15 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A person throws out a five crack and I call it and start to place one five crack on my rack from my hand (and not picking up the five crack from the table) I realize I don't need it,so cancel the call for exposure.... Am I "dead" or does the game just continue?
    >Thanks so much...
    >Judy Haft

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

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 22, 2014


    Isn't it wrong to say "circle" and "bird" and "soap"?

    >From: Cindy
    >Sent: Sunday, September 21, 2014 6:43 PM
    >Subject: Naming tiles
    >Hi Tom,
    >I read FAQ 19 and didn't see my answer. I'm sorry if I missed it somewhere else on you site. BTW loved your answer to AC - "can I call myself dead?" - LOL!
    >Here's my question:
    >Some in my group say "circle" instead of "dot". IE they will call out "three circle" instead of "three dot". It's distracting, but is it wrong? Also, some say "bam bird" instead of "one bam". And is it acceptable to say "soap" instead of "white dragon"? How about those who say "bamboo" instead of "bam" or shorten "red dragoon" to just "red"?
    >Thanks!

    Hi, Cindy. You wrote:

    they will call out "three circle" instead of "three dot". It's distracting, but is it wrong?
    Is there a written rule saying what a player may or may not say? No. Will you encounter players who tell you it's wrong and you should be penalized? Yes. Will you encounter players who enjoy saying tile names humorously? Yes.

    is it acceptable to say "soap" instead of "white dragon"?
    It's the norm to say "soap." You are asking about American (National Mah Jongg League) rules, aren't you? (That's my assumption, since you referred to FAQ 19.)

    How about those who say "bamboo" instead of "bam"
    How 'bout them apples!

    or shorten "red dragoon" to just "red"?
    Again: assuming you are talking about NMJL rules, it's THE NORM to say just one syllable rather than two, and two rather than three, when fewer syllables can be unambiguous. The fewer the syllables, the faster the game, ya see.

    Some players think it's amusing to come up with fun names for some tiles. Some players think it's okay if other players have fun. And some players think there should be very strict rules governing how players sit and breathe and wear their hair. Some players think it's a good idea to shake up the way tiles are named because it makes everyone keep their eyes open, not only their ears. Some players enjoy saying "dragoon" instead of "dragon" even! (^_^) By the way, I appreciate your looking for this in the FAQs. But congratulations, you're the first person who's ever asked me this question -- that makes it exceedingly INfrequent!

    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
    September 21, 2014


    Is it permitted to have a pung AND a kong of the same tile?

    >From: Susan M
    >Sent: Sunday, September 21, 2014 11:21 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My Mah-Jongg question or comment is:
    >I couldn’t see that this is in the FAQ’s but, if it is, I’m sorry to have missed it. Question: If one player has e.g. 3 or 4 of a tile exposed (e.g. three 7 dots) and another player wants to use four jokers for e.g. four 7 dots for Mah Jongg, is that possible even though the "deck" of tiles would never include more than four seven dots? This question would, of course, also apply to winds or dragons.
    >Several of us would greatly appreciate an answer to this question.
    >Susan M

    Hi, Susan.
    You can make as many as three kongs of the same non-flower tile, since there are four naturals and eight jokers.

    It's possible because there are eight jokers, and it's permitted because there is no rule against it. There is no rule that says a tile can't be represented on the table more than four times - if there was, we could never have quints or sextets!
    By the way, I appreciate your looking for this in the FAQs. But congratulations, you're the first person who's ever asked me this question -- that makes it exceedingly INfrequent!
    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
    September 21, 2014

    P.S. In case the image above confuses (rather than illustrates), here's another way three kongs of Seven Dots could be made:

    Note, however, that that third one (on the right) would have to be concealed, since one can never claim a discarded joker.


    Ticket To The Twenties, part 2

    I keep forgetting to get photos of my students while I'm teaching. Guess I'm too busy teaching while I'm teaching. I did take a couple photos of the automobiles, but my iphone hasn't shared them with my PC yet.
    http://www.homesteadmuseum.org/festivals (click to visit website) - click to get flyer
    I should probably mention that I'm a bit too tired to write a column this weekend. Maybe I'll come up with something in the morning.
    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
    September 20, 2014


    Ticket To The Twenties is this weekend!

    I'm teaching mah-jongg at the Homestead Museum again this year. It's a great fun yearly event, with 1920s music, costumes, dancing, automobiles, and of course mah-jongg!
    http://www.homesteadmuseum.org/festivals (click to visit website) - click to get flyer
    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
    September 20, 2014


    What is her secret code?

    >From: Susan B
    >Sent: Saturday, September 20, 2014 10:44 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I am new to MahJongg American. My opponent puts some tiles sideways on her rack. Obviously she is marking something. Any ideas what?
    >Thanks!

    Hi Susan,
    Before I start guessing, I mean mindreading, I should say something. I hope you will never do anything like that yourself! You should not intersperse gaps or sideways tiles among the tiles of your concealed hand - it gives information to your opponents. But what kind of information? Since I can't read minds, I can only guess.
    Maybe she's marking dual-purpose tiles (tiles that she can use in more than one hand), or
    Maybe she's marking single-purpose tiles (and everything else is dual-purpose).
    Or maybe the sideways tiles are for hand A, and vertical tiles are for hand B.
    Or maybe the sideways tiles are tiles she needs to pair.
    Maybe a reader will offer more suggestions.
    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
    September 20, 2014


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

    >From: andi c
    >Sent: Friday, September 19, 2014 4:23 PM
    >Subject: exposed jokers
    >HI,
    >One of the girls I play with insists that she is the only one that can touch or handle her exposed joker on her top rack. So, if I want her joker I have to ask her for it. Is that so? I never played like that before but she actually removed my hand from her joker and insisted in handing tit to me. Is that a rule??
    >thanks
    >Andi

    Hi, Andi.
    There is no written rule that says you have to keep your hands to your side of the table. But written rules cannot cover everything. There are also two other factors no player should disregard: etiquette and common sense.
    If she says she doesn't want your hand touching the tiles on her rack, then etiquette would dictate that you act accordingly. Her private space zone extends to the rack, and it's polite to respect her space.
    If you think about it, common sense should show some reasons why one would want other people to keep their hands off one's rack. I certainly wouldn't want other people fiddling with my tiles. What I do when I want to redeem a joker is this: I hold out my hand with the redeemable tile in my palm, and I ask the other player for her joker. Nobody has ever complained and told me "just take it, why doncha already!?"
    If you are a looser type of player, and you don't mind other people's hands doing things with the tiles on your rack, there's no need for you to start getting all in their faces. You're just a little less uptight about your personal space, is all.
    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
    September 19, 2014


    Column 618

    >From: Julia C
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 9:00 AM
    >Subject: Column 618, Strategy "finding your keys"
    >Tom:
    >Thank you so much for your amazing web site. I LOVE it. This article was so great, helping me spot what's needed to play defensively!
    >I want to point out that
    >6. 222 (cracks) 4444 (dots) could also be the 2nd hand under 2014
    >222 DDD 1111 4444
    >this is one of my favorite hands, so I immediately thought you were referencing it (but when I play it, I almost never expose the dragons, b/c then my cover is blown!) It never occurred to me that you were discussing 22 33 222 333 4444, funny how our minds work :-)
    >I'm sure I'm not the 1st to point this out, but thot I'd throw it out anyway.
    >Julia C

    Good, Julia. So instead of saying "this is exactly the same as problem 2 above," I should say "if 2B and 3B are dead, she can still make 2014 #2." I'll make that edit to the column.
    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
    September 17, 2014


    What kind of set(s) should I buy to play five variants?

    >From: ken w
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 5:07 PM
    >Subject: Few questions bout Mahjong variants
    >I am brand new to Mahjong and I know the different variants to sets. According to the questionnaire we did there's 5 variants that we would be very interested in learning (Japanese, Chinese classical, Chinese government, American and western) . I know each set has different tile amounts and some have red fives or jokers, is there any set that's pretty universal to least few sets, or do we need to buy 3-5 different sets? I didn't know if there is ways to getsome of missing tiles for that region separate (joker for American for example) or if there was a set that was bigger than others for those who play the different variants. I am sorry if this question is little redundant, I been looking at multiple websites to make sure I get right set(s). We came from dominos which we done train and may other styles, from easy to hard and inbetween, so difficulty isn't issue. Tho its just 2 people here who will play (need to find others, central usa). Thanks for any help you can offer, excited bout starting a new enjoyment, but before we do random big leap xD, wanted to see what all sets we would have to have to do those 5 variants listed above.

    Hi, Ken.
    This is easy. Buy an American set - it can be used to play all those variants. It won't have red fives, but you can easily mark one each of the 5B, 5C, and 5D (with stickers or nail polish, for instance) to have the red five functionality.
    But just because the questionnaire indicated those five variants doesn't mean you should jump in and learn those five variants. I recommend you pick one to learn and master first. And since the American variant is the hardest to learn (and since it can be difficult to subsequently learn an Asian variant after first learning American), I recommend you start with any of the other variants you named. Come on back with follow-up questions anytime.
    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
    September 16, 2014


    When did the League start listing hand values with 2-digit scores instead of 3-digit scores for E and non-E players?

    >From: Seymour & Boots H
    >Sent: Monday, September 15, 2014 7:52 PM
    >Subject: Question about values of hands
    >Dear Tom,
    >Started playing mah jongg in the early 1950's and have a question from
    >one of our newer players. I showed her NMJL cards I have from 1958 and
    >1963 and she was intrigued by the way the value of the hands was
    >written...120-240, etc. She asked me when they stopped listing them in
    >that fashion, and I didn't have a clue. I had stopped playing for a
    >number of years, and when I returned to the game in the 1990's, the
    >current style was on the cards. Hope you can give us an answer.
    >Boots H

    Hi, Boots. You asked:

    ...when [did] they [stop] listing them in
    >that fashion[?]
    1970.

    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
    September 15, 2014


    Column error

    >From: Barbara I
    >Sent: Saturday, September 13, 2014 6:41 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I know you are very tricky, but on column 617, shouldn't #7 be 2014 #4?

    You're right, Barbara. I goofed. All fixed now.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper


    Is this a table rule?

    >From: Katherine T
    >Sent: Friday, September 12, 2014 9:13 AM
    >Subject: asian mahjong
    >tomster:
    >My friends mahjong group get anal about the first tile the dealer tosses out. They say that one can earn
    >one point if your have a pong. What difference is it if they make a chow, pong or even a kong. The person
    >that picks up is to the right of the dealer.
    >Is this just a rule unique to their group?
    >kathy t

    Hi, Kathy.
    The term "asian [sic] mahjong" is very vague. Are your friends of Japanese ancestry, or Chinese, or Vietnamese, or Philippine, or...? I have knowledge of the rules of several Asian variants, and in none of them does a player earn 1 point instantly for punging the dealer's first discard. Your friends are using what's known as a "table rule." You should read FAQ 14 to learn more about table rules. You can link to the FAQs above left. You might also find FAQ 20 useful - there are a lot of rules that are universal to all, if not most, Asian variants of mah-jongg.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 12, 2014


    How many tiles are there in a mah-jongg set?

    >From: "Gussie2500
    >Sent: Friday, September 12, 2014 8:29 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >how many tiles in a set excluding extra?

    That depends on the type of set, Gussie.
    Please read "Frequently Asked Questions" 7A and 7B. You can link to the FAQs above left. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 12, 2014


    Set evaluation

    >From: Vince W
    >Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2014 1:24 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Set Evaluation Request
    >Hi Tom,
    >I am hoping you would be willing to give me an evaluation on Mah Jongg set.
    >It was purchased in Hong Kong in the late 1950s and it has never been used and 3 of the 4 trays of tiles are still wrapped in cellophane.
    >Checklist:
    >1. 148 catalin or bakelite tiles (I have no idea)
    > 1 plastic rotatable round wind disk with window
    > 6 tiny dice
    > 4 black old wooden racks with no end pieces
    > 1 cheap brown vinyl case
    > 1 really old Mah Jongg rule book
    > 60 plastic coins
    >2 Condition of everything is as new or mint as nothing has ever been used. The outside of the case is pretty beat up though.
    >3 I was hoping you could tell me if the tiles were Bakelite or catalin
    >4 Purchased in Hong Kong in the late 50’s by my dad when he was there on leave from the Air Force
    >5 2.9cm high, 2.2 cm wide, 1.3 cm thick
    >6 The basic 136 piece set is complete, there are 4 flowers and maybe another 4 flowers but they have NESW on them instead of numbers. There are 4 blanks and no jokers
    >Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    >Thanks,
    >Vince

    Hi, Vince.
    It's worth about $40, give or take ten.
    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
    September 11, 2014


    It can't be used for X, but can it be used for Y?

    >From: bookielemler
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 6:57 AM
    >Subject: Mah jongg rule
    >Thank you so much for considering my question ... I looked very carefully at the faq's and did not see it covered. It is this: I know that when a player discards a tile that could have been exchanged for an exposed joker that it cannot be called by another player and exchanged for that same exposed joker. However ... is that discarded tile dead, or can it be called by another for use in their hand? Thank you!!!! Bookie
    >Over and out, Bookie

    Hi, Bookie.
    I wrote in FAQ 19G (answer two): "Once a redeemable tile has been discarded, it can only be taken for mah-jongg or to create a new set for exposure." So there's your answer (it's right there in FAQ 19G). I guess that's not clear enough. So, let me try to clarify:
    The rule forbids calling a redeemable tile for redemption, because the League says you can't do that (it's in the official rulebook, "Mah Jongg Made Easy," at the bottom of page 19). But nothing in the rule says that a redeemable tile is not still a tile. If you can create a pung, kong, or quint from a discarded tile (any non-joker tile discarded by someone other than yourself), then you can go right ahead and call that tile to create a pung, kong, or quint. If that tile gives you mah-jongg (as itself, not "if redeemed for a joker," since the rule says you can't redeem it), then you can go right ahead and say "mah-jongg."
    Of course, as always, the "price" of taking that discard is that you have to expose it atop your rack, with other tiles from your hand, at the moment of taking it. A discarded redeemable tile is still a tile, and can still be used as a discarded tile (it just can't be redeemed).
    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
    September 9, 2014


    Are there other tests, part 2

    >From: Dan M
    >Sent: Monday, September 8, 2014 3:29 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jong set
    >Tom,
    >Thank you for information the composition of the tiles in my Mah Jongg set.
    >Dan
    >dan m

    You're welcome, Dan.
    May the tiles be with you.

    September 8, 2014


    Are there other tests to use?

    >From: Dan M
    >Sent: Monday, September 8, 2014 9:54 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jong set
    >Attached are images of a Mah Jong et that was left to me by a dear friend. The "hot pin" test made only a superficial dent in the material. Cleaning the unmarked tile with Scrubbing Bubbles didn’t result in a color on the cloth or on the tile.
    >How can I tell if these are ivory?
    >dan m

    >From: Dan M
    >Sent: Monday, September 8, 2014 9:55 AM
    >Subject: I have more homework to do on this et so please disregard my previous email & images.
    >dan m

    >From: Dan M
    >Sent: Monday, September 8, 2014 11:33 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Set
    >Tom,
    >The "hot pin" test left a minute indentation in the end of the white part of a tile. There was no distinctive odor during the pin test. Using Scrubbing Bubbles on an unmarked tile didn’t produce a discoloration on the cloth or on the piece. Are there other tests to use?
    >Dan
    >dan m

    Hi, Dan.
    I saw that your second email said to disregard the first, but when I only read the third, I got confused about what it was you wanted to find out with some kind of test. Sounded like you wanted to know what kind of plastic your tiles were, which confused me when I looked at the picture and saw that they're bone.
    If you want to be sure that your tiles are not ivory (I'm pretty sure they aren't), you should read FAQ 7C2, and take the Is It Ivory checklist. All you need is bright light and good vision (a magnifying glass could help, too). You can click the FAQ 7C2 link above left.
    I have now deleted all mentions of "scrubbing bubbles" and "hot pins" on my website. Nobody should scrub or poke their tiles to try and figure out what they're made of - it's just not necessary.
    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
    September 8, 2014


    How old is my enrobed set?

    >From: David G
    >Sent: Sunday, September 7, 2014 8:52 AM
    >Subject: Enrobed Tiles - How old?
    >Dear Tom,
    >First of all, I wanted to say you have a wonderful site - a daily home base as I become obsessed with Mah Jong! I recently scored my first vintage set from a Kijiji seller here in Toronto, Canada. I was delighted to find that it was one of the "enrobed" tile sets. I understand they are sought after and perhaps valuable; I'm mostly interested in its approximate age, for starters. Please see my short answers in the following checklist:
    >Write a factual detailed list of all the contents of your set. Describe all the contents, listing all dice, chips, racks, etc.
    >Tiles (164), 5 racks, plastic chips, "leather"/vinyl case
    >2. If the set contains any paper materials, like an instruction booklet or scoring card, write the title, author's name (if any), and date (if any) of those materials.
    >None unfortunately
    >3. What are the tiles made of? (See our FAQ 7c.)
    >I believe bakelite - it has a chemical-like odor when rubbed vigorously (I haven’t done a Scrubbing Bubbles test)
    >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 purchased it from an owner who had no knowledge, other than "her mother played it when she was a little girl, in the ‘50’s-’60’s".
    >5. What are the dimensions of the tiles? Use either inches or metric (one or the other, not both - doesn't matter which; just be precise). Height, width, depth.
    >1 ¼" h x ?" wide x ?" deep
    >6. How many tiles are there in the set?
    >164: The 36 of each suit, 16 winds, 12 dragons. There are 28 flowers, some of which are duplicates (?) and some have been painted with red nail polish, presumably to make jokers at some point.
    >7. What kind of container does the set come in? If it's wood, is it one of those flat boxes with a sliding top, or is it one of those squarish boxes with drawers, and if so how many drawers? Does the container have any clear signs of age?
    >Its in a long, faux leather case. The case is in very good condition, other than a faint odor of an old basement. There are no labels of any sort, unfortunately.
    >8. Which kind of craks are in this set -- the older kind or the later kind? Take a picture to provide to the appraiser.
    >The later kind of crack/character.
    >9. Provide a picture of the One Bams. These tiles can sometimes tell a lot about which part of China the set came from.
    >Please see attached
    >10. Provide a picture of the dragons too. These tiles can sometimes tell a lot about which era of mah-jongg history the set came from.
    >As above. Please note the white dragon - I have not seen one like this in my research.
    >11. And provide a picture of the flowers/seasons. These tiles are sometimes exotic and can provide information about the age of a set. And you need to tell me how many flowers/seasons there are. Note: You can just call them all "flowers," I don't care how many of them are "seasons" vs. "flowers" (seasons = flowers - they're the same thing, functionally. I just need a number). This is especially important for American-style sets, since the NMJL required differing amounts of flowers and jokers for a number of years.
    >There are 28, as per photo.
    >12. How many jokers (if any) does the set have?
    >No jokers.
    >I appreciate your time in looking at my email and any expert options you may provide.
    >May the tiles be with you,
    >DAG

    Hi, David. Your question, you said, is how old it is. Since it has 28 flowers and no jokers, it was made in the early fifties. In 1966-67, the previous owner of the set colored 6 of the flowers (probably with nail polish) to mark them as jokers. How do I know that? See Column 509 (you can click the purple banner above to get to the columns).
    I don't see anything rare or unusual about your white dragon tiles.
    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
    September 7, 2014


    Mystery tiles

    >From: W A V
    >Sent: Sunday, September 7, 2014 2:31 AM
    >Subject: faq Mahjong
    >Dear Mister Sloper
    >Recently we bought a Mah Jong set.
    >It's a 152 tiles set without western symbols.
    >Most of the tiles we know. See the attachment.
    >From your 7e answer we identified the upper row as jokers.
    >In the second row we found numbers 1,3 and 4 on your site.
    >We could not identify, row 2: number 2, row 3: complete and row 4: number 4.
    >We wonder where the set originates from and would like to identify the tiles unknown to us.
    >Could you please help us?
    >Thank you in advance and kind regards,
    >Walter V
    >Lelystad
    >Netherlands

    Hello, Walter.
    Your two middle rows are all flower tiles. I do not know anything about Chinese history, mythology, or stories to be able to tell you what your flower tiles depict. I would just call them all "flower." If you want to dig further, I recommend some books on Chinese symbolism at the bottom of FAQ 7E (link above left).
    I don't know which kind of mah-jongg you play. If your game's rules need the flowers to be numbered (to correspond to seat positions around the table), then you would need to somehow assign numbers to all your flower tiles. I imagine this assignment could be arbitrary, unless you learn the story behind those 8 tiles and a logical order is thereby knowable.
    The bottom right tile is surely your white dragon.
    The probability is very high that the set originates from China.
    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
    September 7, 2014


    You would not believe the furor

    >From: Eric B
    >Sent: Thursday, September 4, 2014 11:32 AM
    >Subject: question about the value of my mahjong set
    >hey Tom;
    >over the past week you would not believe the furor my selling of my set for $150 has caused.
    >long story short, i learned i was ripped off for $150, and i immediately canceled the transaction.
    >so i was referred to you by a woman from whom said you helped her in the past.
    >the following link is to my old auction on eBay:
    >http://www.ebay.com/itm/251631640094?ssPageName=STRK:MESOX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1559.l2649
    >could you take a look and give me something ballpark valuewise ?
    >ive heard so many numbers, i think i've beat infinity at its own game !
    >all id like to do, is sell my set, and get a proper price for it.
    >im tired of the drama and the scam offers i am recieving on a daily basis now, since i listed this.
    >never knew mahjong has such a strong following.
    >thanks,
    >--Eric B
    >This message is intended only for the use of the individual or entity to which
    >it is addressed, and may contain information that is privileged,
    >confidential and exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If the reader
    >of this message is not the intended recipient, or the employee or agent
    >responsible for delivering the message to the intended recipient, you are
    >notified that any dissemination or copying of this communication is
    >strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please
    >notify us immediately and destroy the original message and any copies.

    Well, Eric, I don't think the "furor" is so much about the price as it is about the claims you made. I had to jump through a couple of hoops to find what you wrote in the auction, and to see your photos (which could only be viewed a little at a time through eBay's magnifying glass):

      1800's ANTIQUE CHINESE MAH JONG SET WITH BONE & BAMBOO PIECES
      You are bidding on a 1800's ANTIQUE CHINESE MAH JONG SET WITH BONE & BAMBOO PIECES. Hand crafted Chinese ivory and bamboo mahjong set with brass accented teakwood box. Set includes ivory numbered sticks, and game pieces in a fitted wooden box with 4 drawers - one drawer is missing. . Each mahjong piece is hand etched. Age appropriate conditions with normal use and wear.
      i believe there are a few pieces missing; i don't play this game so i'm not sure which ones, but every piece pictured above is what is included;
      please message me with ANY questions you may have before you bid !
      condition:
      please see the photos above as they outline any imperfections visible.
      Domestic Shipping is $25.00


    You make two claims about the set that are flat-out wrong:
    That the set was made in the 1800's;
    That the tiles and sticks are made of ivory.
    As for the first, read FAQ 11 and you'll see why this is wrong. As for the second, read FAQ 7C and 7C2 and you'll see that it's not ivory. (You can link to the FAQs above left.)
    Anyone who'd been led to believe that she was buying an 1800s ivory set from you would certainly have a right to be upset!
    So, as to the value: you don't tell me enough to know whether it ought to be worth $150 or not (nothing in your auction mentions condition), but I can say that since it's missing a drawer and a South and has no paper (no rule booklet), it's seriously flawed. If it had all the drawers and the original booklet, and was not missing a tile, then yes, it could be worth $150 since the box is a bit more ornate than most. But it's missing some parts, and is therefore probably worth under $100.
    Lastly, I saw the legalese in your email signature. Well, I have legalese all over my website, too (appended below, and also visible above in the header).
    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.
    Terms of service and privacy policy: The free service that I offer is limited to what you see here on this website. I answer questions submitted by email ONLY (I do not do telephone Q&A), and I never give free private answers. "When you email me, I own it." The price of the information I give is that it is given only in this public forum. Your email may be edited before posting.
    No information you provide through this website shall be deemed confidential. Emailing me with a question or comment on this topic constitutes your permission for your words to be made public. (Business inquiries and scholar/journalist queries are of course treated with all due confidentiality.) Your last name and email address will usually be omitted (exceptions: Find Players/Teachers posts, buyer/seller posts, and event organizer posts).
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    September 4, 2014


    Do all players have to wait for everyone before picking up the 2nd left?

    >From: Sandy S
    >Sent: Thursday, September 4, 2014 5:21 AM
    >Subject: Passing Question
    >Hi,
    >Playing Maj do all players have to wait for everyone to receive their first left pass before they can pick up the 2nd pass?
    >Thank you
    >Sandy

    It depends, Sandy. Does your group have a friendly ethic... or a screw-your-neighbor ethic? Those are the only two possible ethics a mah-jongg group can have. If your group does not espouse a philosophy of friendly mah-jongg play, then your group believes it's a game of every man for himself, and to hell with everybody else.
    Or maybe your group has never realized that friendly-versus-competitive is an issue that needs to be discussed. Or maybe your group is composed of some who espouse one ethic and some who espouse the other; a group with three friendly players and one aggressive player (for instance) is not likely to stay together for long.
    I can already see the emails that I'll be getting, saying that the game can be friendly and competitive at the same time. Of course it can! But consider: a player who is friendly-competitive is entirely different from a player who's competitive to the extent that she thinks it's okay to pick up her second left before everyone has had a chance to think about the tiles received in the first left.
    And what about the new player who has just barely wrapped her head around the rules, and hasn't yet had a chance to start thinking about the importance of etiquette and harmony, much less the usual causes of mah-jongg disharmony? Well, it's never too early to start thinking about how to play harmoniously, and shame on the teacher who doesn't include this aspect in her lessons.
    Or what about the player who just acts without thinking, who thoughtlessly picks up the second left without even considering whether she should or not? I ask you: doesn't thoughtlessness often lead to unfortunate consequences? Note that the term "thoughtless" is essentially the same as the term "inconsiderate." Just because most of the time a 2nd Charleston proceeds doesn't mean that one can run ahead every time.
    Then again, there is a subtle impact of the desirability of having the 2nd Charleston - most players get upset if someone stops the dancing after the 1st Charleston, and therefore have a reason to act in such a manner as to prevent anyone from stopping it. This desire to continue dancing may be more reason to conveniently forget to be considerate.
    The best practice is to develop the habit (in everyone at the table) of being sure of consensus before picking up the 2nd left. Consensus can be unspoken. I like a game in which all the players are observant (nobody asking "which pass are we at now") and considerate.
    So. I wonder, Sandy: have I answered the question satisfactorily?
    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
    September 4, 2014


    Column 617

    >From: "krrrad
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 3, 2014 2:11 PM
    >Subject: Column 617
    >Hi Tom,
    >Greetings from the D.C. metro area. Re the above referenced column, the fourth example, wouldn't the hot tiles be 6 dot and 6 crack. I don't see where discarding a bam would be a problem. Take care, Karen R

    You're quite right, Karen. Once again I typed a B when I should have typed a D (I don't know why I keep doing that). I'll fix that right now. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 3, 2014


    "this beautiful Mah Jongg set" part 3

    >From: gary s
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 8:43 PM
    >Subject: "this beautiful Mah Jongg set" part 3
    >Hello Again Tom,
    >Thank you for your quick post and evaluation on my Mah Jongg set. I appreciate your expertise and assessment of the set.
    >I have a few other questions and comments, if you wouldn't mind?
    >1. Although the box is the weakest aspect of this set, I am curious what the value might be with a more traditional rose wood or carved box from the 1920's. The reason Im asking is that there seem to be some extremely expensive sets for sale on this website from the "Mah Jongg museum" http://www.mahjongmuseum.com/forsale.htm. I would imagine you might have visited this site before. From my limited knowledge and perspective, it seems that my set has more beauty and accessories than most of the sets going for $350-$700 range. The only difference is the box. Are those sets just way over priced or does the beautiful wooden box add that much value?
    >2. I would be interested in acquiring a beautiful box from that time period to house my set and make it a completely handsome set to cherish and admire. I have no intention of selling it. Do you know how I might find one?
    >3. I want to reach out to Ray and let him know how much I appreciate the depth of his knowledge regarding the flower tiles, that was truly an education that would have taken me a long time to learn on my own. Much thanks, for your post.
    >4. I am enclosing another pic or two depicting the set packaged in the original leather box. Once again I greatly appreciate the opportunity to chat and learn a little more about this wonderful set. FYI we paid $30.00 for this set at the garage sale, what a deal!
    >5. In appreciation, after, this post is sent and after I forward another pic or two, it will be my pleasure to make a $10.00 donation to your site...this has been a real pleasure, thanks again gary
    >P.S. On your site, I believe you said you were able to determine region of china where the set was made, based on the one dot. any thoughts on this set?

    >From: gary s via PayPal
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 8:53 PM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    >PayPal
    >You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $10.00 USD from gary s
    >Receipt ID: #######
    >The number above is the donor's receipt ID for this transaction. Please retain it for your records so that you will be able to reference this transaction for customer service.
    >View the details of this transaction online
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Confirmation number: #######
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: gary s


    Look again at what I wrote before. I said the crummy box reduces the value by about $50. So add the $50 back. Know, though, that this is very rough guessing. But the valuation is meaningless unless you just want to know for insurance purposes.
    Buy a set, if you can't find someone just selling a box.
    I'm not interested in going to the trouble of downloading, resizing, renaming, and posting four more pictures after having already stated a value. But I looked at one photo, and it tells me that that box is probably not original to the set.

    You can pack your tiles in in five rows -- and that says that the box was not designed to hold those tiles. Tiles come in fours, not fives, and no manufacturer would pack a mah-jongg set in a box that needs the tiles to be in fives. So go ahead and buy a proper box.
    Got it, thanks.
    What it says somewhere is that the one bams can provide information as to origin. (One bams, not one dots.) And I didn't actually say that I know which part of China a particular bird design indicates (yes, I admit, I sorta implied it -- I thought I would learn that, but I haven't). You can try checking the Mah Jongg Cyber Museum website, and Michael Stanwick's site, and CHarli's website, and Carli van Emde Boas' site, and Cool Old Games (find the links at the bottom of FAQ 4a).
    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
    September 2, 2014


    "This beautiful Mah Jongg set" (part 2)

    >From: Ray Heaton
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 12:42 AM
    >Subject: Re "This beautiful Mah Jongg set"
    >Hi Tom,
    >Gary's flower tiles shown on Monday are beauties, aren't they (and I couldn't see similar ones shown in FAQ7e).
    >Flower tiles are a bit of a passion of mine, and I have seen examples using the same Chinese characters as Gary's several times before. The tiles show the following:
    >
    >The lower set with the green Chinese characters...
    >西, West (Xi),
    >湖, Lake (Hu),
    >佳, Beautiful, (Jia) and
    >景, View (Jing).
    >
    >Together these mean "Beautiful views of the West Lake" or the "Beautiful scenes of West Lake", and refer to the West Lake in Hangzhou; in China the lake is well known as providing inspiration for poetic works and has been commemorated since the Song Dynasty in the Xihu Shi Jing,
    >西湖十景 or the "Ten Scenes of West Lake". The tiles show examples of these "ten scenes", tile #1 for instance shows Leifeng Pagoda. The ten views are easily found on the internet.
    >
    >The top set with the pagodas and red Chinese characters...
    >樓, Lou, a multi-storied building, tower
    >臺, Tai, terrace. The set uses a simplified version of this character, 台
    >亭, Ting, pavilion, kiosk
    >閣, Ge, two-storied pavilion. The set uses the simplified version, 阁
    >
    >I have seen this translated to "high towers and pagodas" and is sometimes used in literary works, poems etc., where they provide 'nostalgic associations with imperial palaces or the vanished glories of remote or bygone eras' and the buildings give open views of distant landscapes prompting 'transcendent aspirations'!
    >Regards
    >Ray

    Awesome, Ray! You've come through again!
    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
    September 2, 2014


    "This beautiful Mah Jongg set"

    >From: gary s
    >Sent: Monday, September 1, 2014 8:36 PM
    >Subject: Looking for an evaluation of a 1920's era bone and bamboo Chinese MAH JONGG Set.
    >Hello Tom,
    >I would like an evaluation of the following Mah Jongg set:
    >148 Bone and Bamboo pieces, in good to very good condition
    >set includes: 6 bone mini dice in a small wooden box
    > 4 bone disks, in bone round container
    > Bone betting sticks 36..red #1
    > 36 black.. #2
    > 8 red ...#5
    > 36 black ..#10
    > Red Instruction Book..."How to Score The Chinese Game Of Sparrows" in very good condition
    >The leather box has a working lock and key, but the binding of the top of the box is completely torn, worn away from the body of the box. The box closes completely, and the tear is not noticeable when the box is closed.
    >there is a tray for the betting sticks, the box has stitching all around in good condition and there are 4 brass colored metal feet on the bottom of the box
    >the 8 flowers are unlike any I have seen on any website, regarding the detain and complexity of the scenes
    >Dimensions of the tiles, ( as best I could determine) 1 1/4 X 3/4 X 1/2 inches the bone to bamboo measurements are 5/16 inch bone, 3/16 inch bamboo
    >I Have no knowledge of the History of this set, my father bought it recently at a flea market
    >I am sending under separate e mails 10 photographs of the set. They will come in the requested format, but there will be only one photo per e mail, sent from my I phone. Sorry for any inconvenience.
    >Thank you in advance for your time and consideration, my father and I are very excited to learn more about this beautiful Mah Jongg set
    >gary s

    Hi Gary,
    It was a bit of a pain to get 11 emails, and 10 identically named photo attachments, but that's the day and age we live in (and thankfully, Windows 8.1 automatically renames identically named files).

    The good:
    The book is unlike any book I've seen before. It appears to be hardcover, but it appears to have very few pages. I'm thinking the book is probably fairly valuable by itself (but should remain with the set). It's not worth more than $20 by itself.
    All the parts appear to be there (even the sticks are divisible by 4). And it has a six-dice coffin, not the usual 3 or 4 dice.
    The flowers of every set are unlike the flowers of other sets. But your flowers are nice. In your photo, you didn't line them up by color and number to see what they say. Here, I've arranged them left-to-right.

    Actually, the Chinese would probably arrange them right-to-left. I don't know what your tiles say (nor what the pictures represent), but if you work at it, you can find websites that help you look up Chinese characters. I don't remember the names of the two sites I used to use.* They might be mentioned in FAQ 7E. You should definitely have a look through FAQ 7E anyway, and see if you can identify some of your flower tiles there. You show your green dragon upside down.

    The bad: it's in a cruddy leather box. I don't know if that box is original to the set, since you didn't send a photo of the set packed in the box. The box detracts greatly from the overall value. But that does not mean you should re-box the set in an effort to increase its value - it is what it is.

    Because of the book, the set is worth about $20 more than a comparable set. Because of the nice flowers, it's worth a bit more. Because of the poor condition of the box, it's worth maybe $50 less than a comparable set. That gives it a range of somewhere around $80-100 (rough guess).

    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
    September 1, 2014

    * P.S. Sept. 7: I remember now. They're MANDARINTOOLS.COM and ZHONGWEN.COM. Added those links to FAQ 7E.


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

    >From: Phyllis B
    >Sent: Saturday, August 30, 2014 7:46 AM
    >Subject: dead tiles
    >If a tile is called for exposure and it was for a concealed hand and a joker is involved. The hand is called dead. Is that joker considered dead and therefore not replaceable?
    >thanx phyllis

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

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 30, 2014

    * [sarcasm]


    Win by joker redemption: who pays double?

    >From: Marlene W
    >Sent: Saturday, August 30, 2014 2:01 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment A player put out four of a kind using a joker. On my turn I replaced the joker with the correct tile, taking the joker for mahj. Does this count as picking the mahj myself? Or did the person who I took the joker from mahj me?

    Welcome to my website, Marlene. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-AN.
    Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 30, 2014


    Where can I get antique racks?

    >From: Ina Claire S
    >Sent: Friday, August 29, 2014 10:43 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jong Racks
    >Hi Tom -
    >I teach Mah Jong at my local Senior Center and at the last class of an 8-week session, I make that lesson into a Chinese Party and use the antique bone/bamboo tiles and the bone sticks. My classes have grown so in size that I find I need to find more racks that can hold the bone sticks. Can you direct me in my search?
    >Thanks......Ina Claire S
    >Worry looks around...Sorry looks back....Faith looks up!

    Ina, the only place I've seen antique racks (and especially that particular rarer type of antique racks) is on eBay. Good luck!
    May the racks 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
    August 29, 2014

    [P.S. I'm also posting this on the Accessories Wanted bulletin board]


    Misheard and exposed

    >From: Bgrr17
    >Sent: Thursday, August 28, 2014 9:40 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If a player calls a tile puts up her tiles, but she misheard the tile, although it was called correctly, is she dead?
    >Thanks

    Hi, Bgrr.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-AM. Your player "misheard" (something went wrong with regards to her hearing for a moment) - how about her vision? What stopped her from looking at the tile before exposing tiles from her hand?
    You might also be interested to read the post "Mistaken exposure" from Ruth S on August 20, below.
    May the tiles be with you, Bgrr.
    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
    August 28, 2014


    Looking to set up a So. Cal. mahjong group

    >From: Tang Weijie <tang.weijie89gmail.com>
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 7:46 PM
    >Subject: Southern California Mahjong Group
    >Hi!
    >My name is Weijie, and I've been looking to set up a Southern California Mahjong group (riichi, MCR, Hong Kong rules) and a friend of mine who's more into the Mahjong circles posted a link to your site that you posted back in 2009 here: http://sloperama.com/mahjongg/column430j.html
    >I was wondering if there's any information regarding that Jansou, and whether or not you know of anyone who would be interested in joining this mahjong group? I've setup a Meetup on Meetup.com http://www.meetup.com/Southern-California-Riichi-MCR-Group/ here and I'm looking for more players and organization to get this on the road.
    >Thanks in advance,
    >~Weijie

    Hi, Weijie,
    I have not been to that jansou in years, and I don't know if it still operates. My friend Ricky Shiraishi moved to Japan, and I have not gone the extra mile to try to cultivate new contacts with the local jansous, if they still exist. The way I found them before was by looking in the Rafu テレフォンガイド (Terefon Gaido=Telephone Guide, which I picked up at the corner Mitsuwa) and looked in the yellow pages under "Mahjong." I tried that just now with the current テレフォンガイド and there was no Mahjong listing. If you want, you can try going to the old jansou locations and seeing for yourself if they're still there:

    Tokyo Kaikan Nago-ya*
    1648 G Carson St.
    Torrance CA 90501

    Ryozanpaku
    1555 W Sepulveda Blvd. #P
    Torrance Ca 90501

    As for people who might be interested in joining your group, the best I can do is post this on my Find Players bulletin board (so I'm doing that, as well as answering your question about the jansou on my Q&A bulletin board). I would be interested, but my schedule is just crazy. I might check out your meetup (no guarantee I can ever join a game with my schedule).

    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
    August 26, 2014

    * [Edit, September 30 2014: I happened to be in that part of Torrance over the weekend, and I see that the Tokyo Kaikan shop has the name "Nago-ya" on it now - but I do not know for certain that it's still a mahjong club. - Tom]


    Claiming a joker and immediately discarding it, part 2

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 10:51 AM
    >Subject: Re: Claiming a joker and immediately discarding it
    >Hi Tom,
    >I haven't seen my post below yet on your site so I thought it might have been in your spam. Do you agree with my strategy on this?

    >On Aug 21, 2014, at 11:21 AM, Belinda wrote:
    >Hi Tom,
    >I can think of one situation where there is a good reason to redeem a joker then throw it away if you do not need it. If another player has two exposures one having one or two jokers in it and that tile(s) is already discarded or exposed by another player and s/he has a second exposed pung with a redeemable joker and the other tile for that pung has not yet been discarded. I believe it would be a wise choice to redeem the joker in the pung so that no one else can redeem it.
    >Bee

    Hi, Bee. I guess it did get waylaid to spam (I just found this one there).
    You're saying it isn't dumb to redeem and discard if the other player's joker exposure is a pung and she has another joker exposure besides the one you're redeeming from (in which case you're eliminating a joker from redemption and not making someone jokerless)? I did say that [added later] in the August 21 reply to Irene Z. If you're saying something different from that, I'll try again to wrap my brain around what you're saying.
    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
    August 26, 2014


    Why Won't The Computer Let Me Claim Mahjong, pt. 2

    >From: Joshua R
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 7:47 AM
    >Subject: RE: Riichi Mahjong, How would one NOT be able to call win after declaring Riichi?
    >Tom,
    >Thank you kindly for your answer. Let me pose a follow-up question, just to ensure I understand the concept correctly. Had the 1 Man I discarded been, for the sake of this example, a 3 Pin instead, is it a correct statement that, assuming nothing but that tile changed in the game, that would have been a valid hand?
    >I keep forgetting one of the basic rules of Furiten; it shows that I still have a long way to go.
    >Thanks again!
    >~JR

    Hi, Joshua.
    To put it differently: if you had not previously discarded a tile that you later needed to win, you would not be in this furiten situation, and the computer would have let you declare the win. And if you were in a live game with flesh people and plastic tiles, you would not have been penalized for chonbo.
    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
    August 26, 2014


    Why Won't The Computer Let Me Claim Mahjong?

    >From: Joshua R
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 12:56 AM
    >Subject: Riichi Mahjong, How would one NOT be able to call win after declaring Riichi?
    >In the situation above, I am East. It is South 1st Round.
    >I declared Riichi, waiting on a two-sided wait for 1 Man and 4 Man. The hand is fully concealed, and I have Dora 2 at minimum (Red 5 Pin, as well as 4 Pin). The 4 Man from South was the last discard, as well as a tile I would need to win. As far as I'm aware, had I been able to win off the 4 Man, I would have have Riichi, Haitei, Pinfu, Dora 2. Is there a rule that could potentially be in place that could prevent me from winning this specific hand?
    >Thanks for your assistance!
    >~JR

    Konnichiwa, Joshua.
    See FAQ 25 (there's a link above left). The most common reasons for a computer game preventing a win declaration are furiten and below-minimum score. In real life there would be nothing stopping you from making your play, but other players would see that you'd made a mistake, and would hit you with a chonbo penalty. Some computer games disallow that kind of play (and some computer games give the option of permitting chonbo mistakes). In your case, there's a definite furiten.
    You said you're waiting for a 2-way wait, 1M / 4M. I looked at the other player's discards to see if you had missed something in the most recent go-around, and then I looked at your own discards. Have a look at FAQ 25, then look again at your discards.

    You are welcome to email me again if you still don't see it. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 26, 2014


    To my column readers

    This week's column is a reprise of a classic column from years ago. Extra-heavy workload this week! New columns shall be forthcoming soon as usual.


    Is this different than drawing a joker, part 2

    >From: Gwen <jmelody
    >Sent: Friday, August 22, 2014 8:21 PM
    >Subject: joker for majh
    >I guess that I am wrong. I thought that if you needed only one more tile to majh , needing a singleton or a doubleton to complete the majh, and you drew a joker it could be used to majh. Using that joker that you just drew, in place of the singleton or as the second tile in a doubleton. My mistake, as you said that there were NO exceptions to using a joker as a singleton or as the second tile in a doubleton, EVER. Thanks for your response. Gwen

    I wonder where you got that idea, Gwen. If it was from something I wrote here on my site, then I'd like to know, so I can rewrite it.
    And it's not I who says NO exceptions EVER -- it's the League, and they say that right on the card.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 22, 2014


    Is this different than drawing a joker to complete a doubleton or singleton

    >From: Gwen <jmelody
    >Sent: Friday, August 22, 2014 9:07 AM
    >Subject: Fw: mahjongg/joker
    >Another joker question to mahjongg. If I need a singleton or a doubleton to Mahj..........I draw a tile to complete the set in my hand, can I use the joker that I am using in that set to claim mah jongg as it is the last tile that I need ? Is this different than drawing a joker to complete a doubleton or singleton that can be use to mahj ? Gwen

    Hi Gwen,
    Since you can NEVER (all caps, bold, and underlined) use a joker for a single or a pair (see the back of the card and see FAQ 19E, above left), I'm not sure what you're asking.
    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
    August 22, 2014


    2014 #5, "2 or 3 suits"

    >From: Arthur S
    >Sent: Friday, August 22, 2014 8:04 AM
    >Subject: Mah jongg question
    >Tom,
    >Is the following hand a Mahjongg?
    >On card it has: FFFF DDD 2014 DDD. It is a closed hand. Card states "any two dragons, 2 or 3 suits". I had 4 flowers, 3 green dragons, 2014 in cracks with 0 being a white, and 3 red dragons. We were confused with statement of 2 or 3 suits. So, is my hand a Mahjongg?
    >Thanks.
    >D. S

    Hello, D.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 16. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 22, 2014


    Column 616

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 9:40 PM
    >Subject: Column 616
    >My mah-jongg comment is:
    >Column 616: my choice for #5 would be 2014 #1 as there are 7 tiles for that hand with the joker. It also already has five of the six singles that you need for the hand, needing only the 4D. The other options contain far fewer tiles. I would consider myself very lucky to have seven tiles dealt to me, and would hope that others pass the winds! I would choose to pass three of these: 4C, 5C, 2B, 3D or 5D.
    >But as my luck lately has been running very cold, all 4Ds would be thrown in the first few rounds of discards!
    >Thanks Tom.
    >Bee

    Your reasoning is sound, Bee. In the cold light of Thursday morning, I would probably do the same. I won't change the column, though - I'll append this to the column instead.
    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
    August 21, 2014


    Claiming a joker and immediately discarding it

    >From: irene z
    >Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2014 5:01 AM
    >Subject: question on jokers
    >Hi Tom,
    >Is there a Mahjong rule that states is you claim a joker you cannot immediately discard it. You have to wait until your next turn.
    >Thanks,
    >Irene

    Hi, Irene.
    You can never claim a joker, so I don't know what you're asking. The only two ways you can obtain a joker (after the deal) are to pick it from the wall or to redeem it from atop someone else's rack. You can discard it immediately after picking from the wall if you want. There is no rule against discarding it after redeeming it, but you can expect people to react with astonishment or dismay if you do that (players react with astonishment or dismay anytime someone discards a joker, especially novice players).

    I imagine you are thinking of a scenario in which a player's hand is almost complete, waiting to complete a pair, and has just picked a redeemable tile from the wall. She might redeem the tile from atop another player's rack and discard the joker... but why? There is no good reason to do that.* If my hand is waiting to complete a pair and on my turn I pick a redeemable tile, I would discard that redeemable tile (unless I could redeem it from atop my own rack). Yes, other players will react with astonishment or dismay, and a novice player might think I'm stupid for not redeeming it, but I don't care what she thinks. A novice player might think she could claim my discarded redeemable tile in order to redeem it herself, but only a novice player who doesn't understand the redemption rules (FAQ 19G) would think that.

    There is no good reason* to redeem a joker from atop someone else's rack and discard the joker, especially since it might make that opponent jokerless, but there is no rule against it. If the joker is atop my own rack, then I'd want to redeem it and become jokerless myself. There's no rule against doing that in one turn.

    * [Added later]: There's an exception to everything, including this sentence. I can think of only one good reason for redeeming a joker from atop someone else's rack: if the other player's joker exposure is a pung and she has another joker exposure besides the one you're redeeming from. When those two conditions are met, redeeming one of her jokers and discarding it keeps a redeemable joker out of circulation. If those two conditions are not met, though, it's still unwise to redeem her joker, if you're just going to throw it away.
    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
    August 21, 2014


    "Rooshing"

    >From: Elaine L
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 7:51 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: is rooshing the same as the charleston?

    Hi, Elaine. My initial reaction to your question was to respond with a question of my own, and ask you to describe rooshing and when it occurs during the sequence of events in a game of American mah-jongg. But then I decided to Google it, and I found an August 3, 2009 email from Michelle P: http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive10.htm#rooshing. Click that link, and you'll see that the answer to your question is "yes." If you need more information about how rooshing works, go to FAQ 19 (there's a link to the FAQs above left). FAQ 19-AG answers the questions, "How does the Charleston work? When can I stop the Charleston? When can I blind pass?"
    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
    August 21, 2014


    She was called dead but she wasn't dead. What now?

    >From: Marilyn M
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 4:28 PM
    >Subject: mah jongg question
    >Today we had a player who called someone dead. She was not dead. In the past I learned that if you call a player dead and she is not, then you are shown the hand by the player who is not dead and you are out of the rest of that hand. Now I read that you continue playing, but pay the player who was not really dead 25cents. Are you then able to still continue the hand and win after you have been shown that the player was not dead?

    Marilyn, what you have read is correct but what you repeated to me does not tell the whole rule. You filled in the gap with what you were erroneously taught before, so it's understandable that you're confused. Nobody shows what's in her hand to anyone (until after someone declares mah-jongg).
    This question is a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-AA and 19-AB. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 20, 2014


    Column 613

    >From: Gay L
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 11:29 AM
    >Subject: column #613 on July 27.2014
    >Hello Tom,
    > I’m trying to learn from your columns and while studying #613 today I cannot figure out your responses on a couple of the examples. On #4 you said that Odd #1 has 7 tiles. I can only come up with 3 tiles that would go with Odds #1 they are the two 7 dots and the 9 dot.
    > In example # 7, you said that Consec #6 has 7 +1 J. I can see 9 +1 J. They are: 2 of 1 dots, 1 of 2dots, 3 of 1 bams, 2 of 2 bams & a 3 crack +1 Joker.
    > I know you are the expert and probably doing this to see if anyone will notice, or I’m totally misinterpreting you.
    > Thank you for your column and I appreciate your expertise, it is helping me to learn.
    > Gay
    >P.S. I am probably looking at these the wrong way or something, I know you are right but please explain??
    >Gay L

    Gay, you are absolutely right on both counts! The mention of Odds #1 was wrong in example 4 (I was looking at example 5 when I wrote that). And #7 was also wrong. I have made corrections to the column, thanks to you!
    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
    August 20, 2014


    Mistaken exposure

    [Note: this email has been edited to protect the privacy of a third party. The incident described happened at a tournament]

    >From: "ruths
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 12:57 PM
    >Subject: Fwd: Trying To Get It Right
    >...South threw a 7 Crak and named it CORRECTLY. West THOUGHT that South said 7 Bam and therefore put up three 7 Bams. When West went to pick up the 7 Bam she realized that the tile thrown was a 7 Crak. West then wanted to take back the three 7 Bams and put them back in her rack, stating that because it was noisy she heard 7 Bam. All other players at the table agreed that 7 Crak was clearly stated. These are the facts as I know them...
    >Based on these facts, my conclusion is that West is dead. Reason being, she put up three 7 Bams. Once you put up your exposure, you can never take it down and put it back in your rack. I am pretty sure that this is a rule. Even if it was noisy and West misheard the tile thrown, it is her responsibility to look at the table to determine what tile was actually thrown. All good Mah-Jongg players do that automatically. At a tournament we should expect that of all participants.
    >...with what happened here with South correctly naming the tile thrown, and with West putting up the wrong tiles as her exposure... West is dead and in my opinion should not have been allowed to continue playing...
    >Sincerely,
    >Ruth S

    Hi, Ruth.
    You are correct; the party who erred, and who should suffer the consequences of the error, is West. As I always say, "shoulda looked!" See the "Change of Heart" rules in Frequently Asked Question 19-AM (you can link to FAQ 19 above left), and read FAQ 9: philosophies 3, 4, and 5e.
    That only leaves the question: is West dead in this case (is that the appropriate penalty)? Yes, she is. She exposed bams without proper justification under the rules, and it was a tournament, in which strict rules apply. There is a written rule from the League saying that once a play has been committed to, it cannot be rescinded. The National Mah Jongg League ruled on this in the January 2007 newsletter. West committed to the exposure, and the League says it cannot be taken back. It was exposed improperly (whether or not she adds the 7C to her exposed seven bams, regardless), so she is dead.
    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
    August 20, 2014


    Somebody said there should be 19 stacks in each wall; part 2

    >From: Pat L
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 5:55 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom, thank you for your prompt reply to my question about how many tiles in the walls. We make walls but one may have 17 and another 20. We do not worry about if each have the same number because we felt everyone got the right tiles even if each rack did not have the same number of tiles in front of it. At the tournament they made a big deal of each rack having 19 and I just wondered why this was so important. I just found your site and it is fascinating. Pat

    Hi, Pat.
    Thanks for coming back with the follow-up. I never heard of anyone doing it your way, and I imagine nobody at that tournament had heard of it either. In general, mah-jongg players are happier if things are neat and symmetrical on the table, especially at the beginning of a hand. For one thing, equal-length walls are a clue that all tiles are present on the table. Doing it your way, if by chance two tiles were hidden in the hollow under someone's rack, those two tiles would never enter play - but if the walls are of equal length, two tiles being missing would be noticeable immediately. Your group can continue doing things your way if you want, but it's advisable to make walls of equal length so missing tiles are noticeable. And, of course, like it says in FAQ 14, if you go to a tournament or play at someone else's house where they play the normal way, you have to be ready to adapt. I recommend you read FAQ 14.
    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
    August 19, 2014


    Somebody said there should be 19 stacks in each wall; is that a rule?

    >From: Pat L
    >Sent: Monday, August 18, 2014 4:54 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Is there a rule that says how many tiles are in each wall? Our friends at a tournament said there should be 19 sets in each wall but we had not been playing that way. Thanks for your response! Pat

    Hello, Pat.
    This raises the fascinating question: "how the heck have you been making your walls, then?" Consider: American mah-jongg (we are talking American mah-jongg, right? NMJL card?) uses 152 tiles. Walls are built 2 tiles high. Diving 152 by 2 gets us 76 stacks of tiles around the table. We need to make four walls, so divide 76 by 4, and we get 19. Each wall is 19 stacks long (usually longer than the racks themselves, which Chinese manufacturers make to be about 18 stacks long, since the Chinese game uses 144 tiles, not 152 tiles). See pages 9 and 10 of the official rulebook.
    If your question is prompted by the use of such practices as a "tail," that's just a matter of preference and group consensus. The "tail" is not documented anywhere in the official rules. See FAQ 19-BK. You can link to the Frequently Asked Questions, above left.
    If your question was not prompted by practices such as the "tail," then I really would like to know how you've been making your walls.
    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
    August 18, 2014


    In 2014 #2, do the twos have to be dots to go with the zeroes?

    >From: Nancy C
    >Sent: Monday, August 18, 2014 8:23 AM
    >Subject: White dragons
    >The second line under 2014 reads 222 000 1111 444 (any two suits). Are the white dragons dots and therefore requiring the 2's to be dots or are they neutral so the 2's can be any suit as long as it is different than the 1's and 4's?

    Hi, Nancy.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 16. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 18, 2014


    I believe this one to be of ivory (part 3)

    >From: CTJP Marie
    >Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2014 7:29 PM
    >Subject: RE: Mahjong set
    >Sorry it wasn’t more…that’s why I was hoping for the golden egg :O :P Peace & J
    >Ps. you’re funny! :)

    Yes. I'm hilarious!
    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
    August 17, 2014


    I believe this one to be of ivory (part 2)

    >From: CTJP Marie
    >Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2014 6:13 PM
    >Subject: RE: Mahjong set
    >OMG…thank you. What a quick education for today. J Thank you so much. Peace & J Marie

    >From: marie t via PayPal
    >Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2014 6:15 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from marie t
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$5.00 USD from marie t. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $5.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Confirmation number: ##########
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: marie t
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    You're welcome, Marie. Thanks for the donation.
    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
    August 17, 2014


    I believe this one to be of ivory (judging by the dove tail)

    >From: CTJP Marie
    >Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2014 3:41 PM
    >Subject: Mahjong set
    >Hi there ... I have a mah-jongg set and I believe this one to be of ivory
    >(judging by the dove tail...). I've laid down a ruler next to so you can
    >have its measurement. I've taken all the pictures that you requested. It was
    >my aunts...she died at age 83... 5 years ago and this was in her belongings.
    >I hope you can give me some answers as to what the prospects are regarding
    >pricing etc.
    >I would say this is in very good condition if not close to excellent. One
    >(the number two below is slightly chipped... none are broken. )
    >The box itself measures 8.5×7 3/8×3.
    >Looking forward to hearing from you.
    >Will forward 2 miniature sets as well for your opinion, if you would be so
    >kind.
    >Any information you could share would be greatly appreciated.
    >Kind regards,
    >Marie T. W

    Hi, Marie. You asked for:

    what the prospects are regarding
    >pricing
    You're asking how much it's worth. You didn't give me all the information I need, but I'll do what I can from the photos, blurry as they are. You have all the tiles your set is supposed to have, plus a miniature set of dominos. I can't tell if the paper pictured is a set of instructions or an envelope for a score card, or just an ad. I have to assume it's just an ad, or just an envelope, since you didn't say. Your tiles are not ivory. Dovetails do not make a set ivory - all bone/bam tiles are dovetailed, and not all ivory tiles are bamboo-backed. I don't know where people get the idea that a dovetail means ivory; if you saw that somewhere on the Internet or something, please tell me where, so I can post a counter-argument. Your tiles are bone (I can see Haversian system in the blurry picture of the 2-bam). You're missing one of your wind indicator discs. You say the set is Very Good; let's assume that's so. The set is worth maybe $60-70. I don't know what your miniature dominos are worth; maybe $10-20. They are not part of your mah-jongg set.

    etc.
    Can you be more specific, please? Read FAQ 7p; I can't answer "tell me anything" questions.

    Will forward 2 miniature sets as well for your opinion, if you would be so
    >kind.
    Next time please give me the information requested in FAQ 7H, and please lay out your tiles like those in FAQ 7H, and please ask specific questions.

    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
    August 17, 2014


    Column 614

    >From: "oiveah
    >Sent: Friday, August 15, 2014 8:10 AM
    >Subject: Mistake on Defense Column
    >Hi Tom,
    >thank you for your informative strategy column. I did notice that on your last defense column (8/3), you forgot to include that #7 could also be W-D #6. Reds and Greens are also hot.
    >Thanks,
    >Michael

    My hat's off to you, Michael. Well spotted.
    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
    August 15, 2014


    Where to buy mah-jongg sets

    >From: Dana H
    >Sent: Friday, August 15, 2014 4:12 AM
    >Subject: Mahjogg
    >I am visiting my daughter in Tampa Fl
    >I want to teach the game of Mahjogg to her and my granddaughter. We are waiting for recovery from surgery and the results of this surgery
    >This is a hard time for all of us and I want to help pass the time by having something to concentrate on.
    >I cannot find a set to buy . Can you help me?
    >Is there a store in Tampa where a set can be purchased?

    Hi Dana,
    I do not have information about stores that sell mah-jongg sets in cities across North America. The most reliable place to obtain mah-jongg sets is the internet. Please read FAQ 7K, and see the vendors listed in FAQ 4A. You can link to the FAQs above left. Good luck!
    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
    August 15, 2014


    Taiwanese scoring, part 4

    >From: Minh H
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 10:02 PM
    >Subject: Thank you very much for your response
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks again for your latest explanations, it certainly made thing a whole lot clearer now. Also, I'm terribly sorry for all the confusions. Truth be told, the example given was actually a hand I won with recently and we scored it as Nei Long according to the winning patterns that I printed out for all of my friends from the information I gathered. Since I was the one who introduced them to this new Taiwanese style, I've been feeling a bit guilty ever since winning that hand. I felt like I might have cheated them because I kind of convinced them that was a Nei Long even though at the time I wasn't 100% sure whether that was Nei Long or Wai Long. Anyways, thanks for clearing my conscience and thanks for creating such a good website where Mahjong enthusiasts can come and learn more about this wonderful game!
    >Jack.

    You're welcome, Jack. I'm glad I could help. I have gone back and added some words to my original response below, so any readers who come along won't also be misled by my original choice of words.
    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
    August 14, 2014


    Taiwanese scoring, part 3

    >From: Minh H
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 8:24 PM
    >Subject: Questions about Taiwanese Style scoring (continued) :)
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thank you for your quick response for my first e-mail! However, I'm still a bit confused about the answer and would hope you could clarify a bit more. Also, like any good discussion, good answers prompted more questions :). I'm copied and pasted the example from my previous e-mail so we know which one we are talking about:
    >
    >Example: I have 123, 456, 79 of characters and waiting for 8 of characters to go out and complete my 1-9 sequence (assuming the rest of the tiles are in the right order for a winning hand). If someone discard 8 of characters and I claim it to win, will it be counted as an exposed or a concealed 1-9 sequence? (5 or 10 tais).
    >
    >Confusion:
    >In your response, you said: "In your example, the chow is not a scorable set. The rest of the hand can be scored as concealed." Are you saying that my 1-9 all characters sequence is not valid in this example so I will not get any tais for it at all, or are you saying that since the last sequence 789 of characters is made up of one discard tile, that it will be counted as a External Dragon (1-9 sequence with one or more melded chow)?
    >
    >New questions:
    >1. If the answer to the above question is that my 1-9 sequence is invalid and cannot be scored for tais, is it correct to say that in order for such a pattern to be valid, my winning tile that I'm waiting for cannot be one of the tiles that would complete one of the three chows in the 1-9 sequence if winning on discard, but ok if selfdrawn?
    >2. In the same vein as question #1, assuming I'm trying to win with an All Pungs hand as follows: pung of 3 characters, pung of 2 bamboos, pung of 6 characters, pung of 4 Dots, a pair of North Winds and a pair of Green Dragons). I'll be waiting to go out with either a North Wind or a Green Dragon.
    > a. If someone discard either a North Wind or a Green Dragon, I will win with an All Pung hand, but that last pung of either North Wind or Green Dragon will not be counted for tais (assuming pung of any dragons and any winds will give player 1 tai), correct? ("But sometimes you might complete a scorable set in that process (like a pung of winds or dragons), and when that happens, you cannot claim extra points for the set completed by the discard.")
    > b. If I self draw either North Wind or Green Dragon to win, will that last pung be counted then?
    >
    >Hopefully this e-mail is not too confusing in itself. Thanks again!
    >Jack.

    Hi, Jack. You wrote:

    In your response, you said: "In your example, the chow is not a scorable set. The rest of the hand can be scored as concealed."
    I added that at the last minute. And when I wrote it, I was kind of worried that it would cause questions. Of course, it was added to clarify. :rolleyes:

    Are you saying that my 1-9 all characters sequence is not valid in this example so I will not get any tais for it at all, or are you saying that since the last sequence 789 of characters is made up of one discard tile, that it will be counted as a External Dragon (1-9 sequence with one or more melded chow)?
    The 789 cannot be scored as exposed, since chows are valueless anyway. The "rest of the hand" that I mentioned before includes your Dragon (1-9), which is not exposed until the moment of winning. IN MY OPINION (assuming Amy Lo doesn't specify - I don't have time to check), the Dragon should score Nei Long, since you did not expose a chow prior to exposing the Dragon (you exposed the dragon when you exposed the rest of the hand). It is possible that you might meet players whose opinion differs from mine. My opinion is based on how this principle works in Japanese mah-jongg and other variants. The 789 chow is the only part of the hand that must be regarded as "exposed," since Amy Lo did not state explicitly that win by discard does not count, or that Nei Long cannot be won by discard.

    If the answer to the above question is that my 1-9 sequence is invalid
    Stop there, since I didn't say that.

    assuming I'm trying to win with an All Pungs hand as follows: pung of 3 characters, pung of 2 bamboos, pung of 6 characters, pung of 4 Dots, a pair of North Winds and a pair of Green Dragons). I'll be waiting to go out with either a North Wind or a Green Dragon.
    > a. If someone discard either a North Wind or a Green Dragon, I will win with an All Pung hand, but that last pung of either North Wind or Green Dragon will not be counted for tais (assuming pung of any dragons and any winds will give player 1 tai), correct?
    Wrong. You still have your North Wind. You still earn 1 tai. Notice that the tai for Tsu does not depend on the pung being concealed. You earn 1 tai for Tsu whether it's exposed or concealed, in Lo's description of Taiwanese rules.

    In some forms of mah-jongg, concealed pungs earn more points than exposed pungs. If you complete that pung by discard, that pung cannot be scored as Concealed. Looking through Lo's scoring pages just now, it looks like no such distinction exists in Taiwanese. So perhaps I didn't need to make the distinction in response to your question. I was stating a principle that applies to numerous other variants, but (apparently) not Taiwanese.

    b. If I self draw either North Wind or Green Dragon to win, will that last pung be counted then?
    It's counted. In Lo's Taiwanese rules, it doesn't matter if the pung is exposed or concealed - it scores regardless. So forget I ever said anything.

    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
    August 13, 2014

    [Because of the necessity of this follow-up question, new text was added to the previous answer, below - newly added text is shown in red to clarify previously unclear points]


    Oops, didn't need to put up that joker

    >From: "dakacz
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 5:06 PM
    >Subject:
    >A person calls for a tile and uses a joker to rack the tiles, missing that he had a matching tile in his hand. Thus he did not need to use the joke. Can he replace the joker with the tile that is in his hand and reclaim the joker?

    Yes, dakacz, he can. He can make the change before he discards, or he can make it on his next turn. Read Frequently Asked Question 19AF and FAQ 19M. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 13, 2014


    Taiwanese scoring, part 2

    [Some new text has been added to the response to this question - newly added text is shown in red to clarify previously unclear points]

    >From: Minh H
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 3:30 PM
    >Subject: Questions about Taiwanese Style scoring
    >Hi Tom,
    >I'm playing Taiwanese 16-tile Mahjong and I have a couple of questions regarding the scoring of winning hands.
    >According to Amy Lo's book and Mahjong Time's scoring rule:
    >1. If I go out with Three Chows of 1 suit, Step 3 (123, 456, 789 of the same suit), I will get 5 tais for an exposed (one or more of those sequences are melded, aka External Dragon) and 10 tais for a concealed (none of the sequence are melded, Internal Dragon). My question is if I were to win on a discard that belongs to one of the three sequences of the Dragon, will it be counted as exposed or concealed? For example, I have 123, 456, 79 of characters and waiting for 8 of characters to go out and complete my 1-9 sequence (assuming the rest of the tiles are in the right order for a winning hand). If someone discard 8 of characters and I claim it to win, will it be counted as an exposed or a concealed 1-9 sequence? (5 or 10 tais)
    >2. If I go out with a Chow hand (all sequence and a pair) with the absence of Honors (as the eye that is) and Flowers tiles, it will be worth 10 tais. My question is could No Flower and No Honor (each is worth 1 tai) be counted toward the winning hand, making it 12 tais total or are those tais already implied in the winning of the hand?
    >Sorry for the lengthy questions, and like always, thank you very much!
    >Jack.

    Hi, Jack. This was not a lengthy question. You explained yourself very clearly, without a lot of unnecessary words.

    if I were to win on a discard that belongs to one of the three sequences of the Dragon, will it be counted as exposed or concealed?
    When you win by discard on a concealed hand, the hand itself scores as concealed. But sometimes you might complete a scorable set in that process (like a pung of winds or dragons, which in some variants might be scored differently if concealed versus exposed), and when that happens, you cannot claim extra points for concealment of the set completed by the discard. In your example, the chow is not a scorable set regardless, since chows are inherently valueless (so whether or not it's technically exposed is a non-issue). The rest of the hand can be scored as concealed.

    If I go out with a Chow hand (all sequence and a pair) with the absence of Honors (as the eye that is) and Flowers tiles, it will be worth 10 tais. My question is could No Flower and No Honor (each is worth 1 tai) be counted
    No Flowers is implied by the description (all-chow hand with no honors and no flowers). Therefore you cannot also claim another point for No Flowers. Likewise, No Honors is implied by the same description. Therefore you cannot claim that point. The points for Wu Hua and Wu Tsu are built in to the score for Dar Ping Hu. FAQ 22 is about MCR, not Taiwanese, but check it out and read the "Prohibition against implied inclusions" (10.1.5.1.). That's a fairly universal principle.

    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
    August 13, 2014

    [Text in red was added later to clarify previously unclear points]


    Can I redeem a joker atop my own rack?

    >From: Nancy C
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 1:20 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If a player exposes a suit using a joker and picks up the matching tile herself can she take the joker back in her hand?

    Hello, Nancy.
    Welcome to my website. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19M. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 13, 2014


    Personal preferences

    >From: John W
    >Sent: Sunday, August 10, 2014 9:40 AM
    >Subject: Re: Find Players/Teachers
    >I first learned if Golden gate park with oriental/phillipino co-workers playing chinese mahjong. Here is Albuquerque they play American mahjong at our JCC and a few of the City Senior Centers. American style seems harder to pick up because of understanding the current NML card. I have the card but need to pay how to read the card quickly to formulate your hand. We are moving to Phoenix in a few years and they have several instructors for hire. If I was close to LA I would hire you instantly. Question: Which style do you personally prefer to play. Do you like the fact the American way changes the card every year??
    >John W

    Hi, John. You wrote:

    Which style do you personally prefer to play.
    I enjoy the excitement of Japanese riichi/dora majan, but I would enjoy the game more if I could play it for no money, or for very low stakes. I also enjoy simple basic Chinese style, and MCR (in which the scoring is simple addition, no multiplication or doubling).

    Do you like the fact the American way changes the card every year??
    I think the American game would probably become very boring if it didn't change every year (if there was one card that stayed the same from year to year).

    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
    August 12, 2014


    What does "2 or 3 suits" mean when there are three colors, part 2

    >From: Ice Land
    >To: Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Sunday, August 10, 2014 10:17 AM
    >Subject: RE: Mahjong question.
    >Awesome Tom! You made me feel good about losing my $2.80. Enjoy the day!
    >I am in awe of your awesomeness! HAhahHHaa
    >Cliff.


    Questions about black Japanese sets

    >From: Robert Hornbek
    >Email: rhornbekgmail.com
    >Sent: Sunday, August 10, 2014 11:51 AM
    >Subject: "Premium Mahjong tiles Hokuto blackish?"
    >Hello Tom,
    >I only just recently discovered you bulletin board while doing some heavy research into how to play Mahjong and what types of sets are available.
    >Things I am looking for:
    >Riichi Style (red fives etc)
    >Without Western number / letter guides (top right / left corner)
    >Quality White Dragon image (not blank or picture frame)
    >Quality engraving / paint (no offset paint)
    >Quality tile material (won't fade or wear down to reveal sub-surface color)
    >Inline image 1
    >Source: http://global.rakuten.com/en/store/pochitto/item/mt-janpai-hokuto/
    >In my search I came across the set shown in the image above, which appears to cover every expectation I have. Being unable to find any reviews on the product, and experiencing language difficulties with the support, it leaves me with a few questions:
    >Are the tiles (bottom-center) just under the red fives in white paint the White Dragon tiles?
    >Why are there two Red Fives of Spots?
    >Where is the Red Five of Characters? Is it the tile with the red circle / gem next to the Red Fives?
    >Would you know if this set it worth the $95 price tag?
    >I really appreciate your time and any information you are able to provide!
    >Cheers!
    >PS: Would you happen to know of any websites that provide highly customizable sets, more than just the color of the back of the tile?
    >Double Cheers!
    >Robert H

    Hi, Robert. You wrote:

    Being unable to find any reviews on the product, and experiencing language difficulties with the support...
    Yes. That is a Japanese site. There are ways to translate the site - but doing a search would require using Japanese. You might possibly find "reviews" on reachmahjong.com (in the forums).

    Are the tiles (bottom-center) just under the red fives in white paint the White Dragon tiles?
    Yes. They're marked with the Chinese character for "white."

    Why are there two Red Fives of Spots?
    Because manufacturers want their tiles to always come in multiples of four - the set wouldn't look pretty if there was an empty space there. And it's normal for Japanese manufacturers to provide four red fives (including a second five-dot).

    Where is the Red Five of Characters? Is it the tile with the red circle / gem next to the Red Fives?
    I suppose it must be! I had a set of gray-speckled tiles with a tile like that one. I must have sold the set on eBay earlier this year.

    Would you know if this set it worth the $95 price tag?
    Worth is subjective. Only you can make that determination. It's not unusual for Japanese sets to go for prices like that (and even higher). I bought a black Japanese set once - it was probably more than $95. If I had it to do over again, I might not buy it, I suppose (my financial situation isn't the same as it was then).

    Would you happen to know of any websites that provide highly customiz[ed] sets...
    You can try the vendors listed in FAQ 4a. Note that MahjongMart specializes in Japanese goods. You can link to the FAQs above left. Good luck!

    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
    August 10, 2014


    Sticky window, part 3

    >From: Paula F
    >Sent: Sunday, August 10, 2014 7:49 AM
    >Subject: RE: Mah Jongg Question
    >Not a problem, I just didn't want to bug you. :)

    Fuhgeddaboudit! So bug me, already!


    Sticky window, part 2

    >From: Paula F
    >Sent: Sunday, August 10, 2014 7:29 AM
    >Subject: RE: Mah Jongg Question
    >Hey Tom, can you post directly on the board or do I need to email you first?
    >By the way, I think your website is great and refer to it quite often.
    >Thanks!
    >Paula

    Thanks, Paula. Like it says above, I'm not a programmer, and to keep spammers out, I had to go low-tech. Due to the actions of spammers, I had to remove the ability of visitors to post here without my involvement. As a result, all users' posts now have to go through me via email.
    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
    August 2, 2014


    What does "2 or 3 suits" mean when there are three colors?

    >From: Ice Land
    >Sent: Saturday, August 9, 2014 5:09 PM
    >Subject: Mahjong question.
    >Good day Tom!
    >Have $2.80 riding on this question. Twice in one night an opponent won the hand because we could NOT officially dispute their claim of a win. On the 2014 card there is a hand with FFFF DDD 2014 DDD and the first DDD is green, the 2014 is red and the second DDD is black. Is also states in the parenthesis, (any 2 dragons, 2 or 3 suits).
    >In both of her hands, the 2, 1, and the 4 were of the same suit as one of these sets of dragons, so the both hand only has two colors, and so yes two suits. We felt that the 2 or 3 suits in parenthesis trumped the colors of the card and so we let her win the hands. Did we do the right thing?
    >Also, it states any 2 dragons so can it be made up of all three suits of dragons which she had in both hands as the card would indicate based on colors? If you answer yes, then your statement about the parenthesis always trumping the colors would have to thrown out the window Tom. Be careful!
    >Cliff.
    >p.s, I just love the game! And I can see why you must find these questions entertaining.
    >p.p.s, And then again, maybe you're absolutely sick of getting mahjong e-mail. Oh well, here's another.

    Hi, Cliff. You wrote:

    We felt that the 2 or 3 suits in parenthesis trumped the colors of the card and so we let her win the hands. Did we do the right thing?
    Yes. The parenthetical trumps the color-coding in this case.

    Also, it states any 2 dragons so can it be made up of all three suits of dragons
    You can't use "all three suits of dragons" - the zero is just a zero (soap doesn't count as a dragon when it's used as a zero).

    which she had in both hands as the card would indicate based on colors?
    Um... what? You can make a three-suit hand or a two-suit hand. See below. First, some three-suit hands. Then, some two-suit hands.

    If you answer yes, then your statement about the parenthesis always trumping the colors would have to thrown out the window Tom. Be careful!
    I get what you're saying. If I answer contrary to FAQ 19J, then I'd be contradicting my FAQ, thus the FAQ must be wrong and I'd have to rewrite it - and then next time somebody asks that question, I'd need to make sure I gave the answer in the FAQ. Makes sense! I guess I'd better tread carefully, all right!

    I think I'll also add this to FAQ 16 for the 2014 card.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 10, 2014


    How do we do a Charleston with three players?

    >From: Tina J B
    >Sent: Saturday, August 9, 2014 1:36 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Regarding playing with three players....
    >1. Are you required to complete at least one Charleston and then an option prior to beginning the game, or do you not do a Charleston at all when playing with three players.
    >2. If a Charleston is required for three players, what is the proper procedure.
    >Thank you.
    >Stbaker127
    >Aiken, SC

    >From: Tina J
    >Sent: Saturday, August 9, 2014 1:50 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >FYI,
    >I did find an answer(s) to my question(s) below, but found more than one procedure for American Mahjongg depending on whose website you go to, so I would guess the table decides which way prior to starting.
    >Thanks.....again.

    Hi, Tina.
    If you found multiple 3P Charleston answers online, then perhaps you have not yet found the official rule about the 3P Charleston. Read FAQ 13A and column 532.

    And, in addition, see FAQ 14.
    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
    August 10, 2014


    Is it okay to say "wait"?

    >From: Karen G
    >Sent: Saturday, August 9, 2014 6:20 AM
    >Subject: question
    >Tom,
    >Is it okay to say "wait" when you are not sure if you are going to call a tile? I was told that this is okay in tournament playing.
    >Karen G

    Is it okay? It's common. It happens all the time, and just about everybody does it. Does that make it okay? The purist in me wishes nobody would do it. I don't do it - I know what tiles I need to win. But there's no way it can be outlawed, unless the League decides to state a ban on it in print.
    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
    August 9, 2014


    Taiwanese scoring

    >From: Minh H
    >Sent: Saturday, August 9, 2014 1:52 AM
    >Subject: Question about Taiwanese Mahjong
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for your previous response about picking a new style of Mahjong to play! My friends and I decided to pick the Taiwanese Rule and here's where my questions lie. We were confused about the 2 extra tais awarded to any winners (this is not mentioned in Amy Lo's book, but was included in the Mahjong Time Taiwanese Style Scoring Rules) and the 1 extra tais for winning on a one-chance chow or on a pair. Are those tais only applied after winning or can they be used to complete the minimum tai requirement for winning any hands (we set a minimum of 5 tais, according to some sources)? Lastly, when discarding tiles, do they have to be placed in an orderly fashion like in Riichi Mahjong or do we placed it randomly in the center like in old HK style? Thanks!
    >Jack

    Good morning, Jack. The answer is "yes and no, and no and yes." You asked two different questions about two different tais.

    the 2 extra tais awarded to any winners (this is not mentioned in Amy Lo's book, but was included in the Mahjong Time Taiwanese Style Scoring Rules) ... Are those tais only applied after winning or can they be used to complete the minimum tai requirement for winning
    Tais awarded for winning cannot be used towards the minimum. Imagine the minimum was 2 tais, and one gets 2 tais for winning. "I get 2 tais for winning, and I'm required to have 2 tais to win, so I win!" See how that doesn't work? 2 tais for winning may not be counted towards the minimum required for winning.

    and the 1 extra tais for winning on a one-chance chow or on a pair. Are those tais only applied after winning or can they be used to complete the minimum tai requirement for winning
    Tais awarded for winning in a particular manner may be counted towards the minimum. "7 tais for Clean, and 1 for one-chance chow. 8 tais (3 more than the minimum), and I get 2 tais for winning - total: 10 tais! Pay up!" See how that does work?

    (we set a minimum of 5 tais
    What is it with you folks and your insistence on minimums? I think it adds to the complexity and not to the fun. By the way, Dragon Chang awards 10 tais for Chicken Hand.

    when discarding tiles, do they have to be placed in an orderly fashion like in Riichi Mahjong or do we placed it randomly in the center like in old HK style?
    The only variants that use orderly discards are Japanese riichi and MCR. But if you like it, you can do it. There's no mah-jongg police to tell you otherwise.

    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
    August 9, 2014


    Sticky window

    >From: Paula F
    >Sent: Friday, August 8, 2014 7:00 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    >Hi Tom -
    >You taught me and a group of girls how to play mah-jongg a number of years ago. I checked your web site and don't see an answer to this question.
    >"I actually picked my mah-jongg tile from the wall. Before I could say mah-jongg, another player called for the previously discarded tile. Because I thought it was the right thing to do, I put my mah jongg tile back in the wall and let the game proceed with the player claiming the discarded tile. Needless to say my mah jongg tile was never thrown and someone else claimed mah jongg.
    >Had I called Mah Jongg after the 2nd player called for the previously discarded tile, would it have been Mah Jongg for me? At the time I picked my mah jongg tile, I had not racked it so I was thinking that the 2nd player was allowed to still claim the discarded tile. But it then dawned on me (of course a couple of games later) that I wouldn't have racked a mah jongg tile to begin with.
    >I appreciate your help.
    >Thanks Tom!
    >Paula

    Hi, Paula. Nice to hear from a former student.
    The situation you describe is something I've thought about some - but I have no official answer for you, and I can see two opposing approaches to it.
    Technically, you did the right thing - since you had not spoken yet, the other player was within her rights to call the discard, and you were right to put your tile back.
    On the other hand, "mahj trumps everything." I would probably have flashed the tile I picked, and said, "no - this is mah-jongg." Once you say "mah-jongg," the hand is over. But you have to do that very quickly....
    ...Other player discards, you pause a beat and pick, another player says "call," you say "no, this is mah-jongg." Rapid succession after you pause a beat before picking. Most reasonable people would let it end with your win. She had time to call during your pause (yet another reason why it's a good idea to pause for a beat before picking).
    There is a chance that she would contest it, but it's reasonable for her to concede the win at that point.
    Note, however, that this is my opinion only - not official. Only the League could rule on this officially.

    To respond to some things you said...

    Needless to say my mah jongg tile was never thrown and someone else claimed mah jongg.
    "Needless to say"??? Not hardly! I didn't assume that outcome at all! I would have assumed (unless you gave yourself away by your expression or body language) that the next player would discard the tile and you'd win on the spot.

    Had I called Mah Jongg after the 2nd player called for the previously discarded tile, would it have been Mah Jongg for me?
    It depends on the timing. As I said above, you need to do it immediately. In my opinion.

    But it then dawned on me (of course a couple of games later) that I wouldn't have racked a mah jongg tile to begin with.
    Assuming you take the time to look before racking. Some people prefer to rack first and look second.

    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
    8/8/2014


    We need a new mah-jongg

    >From: Minh H
    >Sent: Friday, August 8, 2014 5:19 AM
    >Subject: Suggestion for new Mah Jong style
    >Hi Tom,
    >My friends and I have been playing the old HK style Mah Jong (flowers and seasons included) with 3 fan minimum for a while now and are a bit tired of the lack of varieties in winning hands. We often went out with all pung, clean and once in a long while - pure hands. I've been looking at the Shanghai and Taiwanese 16-tile style as written in Amy Lo's "The book of Mah Jong" and I'm leaning more towards Taiwanese style for its higher winning combinations compared to old HK's, but not as overwhelming as Shanghai's. I was just wondering what's your opinion on this and I would also greatly appreciate it if you could recommend any other styles of Mah Jong that would offer more ways of winning, but not as overwhelming like Shanghai. Sorry I know that's a lot to ask. :). Thank you very much!
    >Jack.

    Hi, Jack. You wrote:

    My friends and I have been playing the old HK style Mah Jong (flowers and seasons included) with 3 fan minimum for a while now and are a bit tired of the lack of varieties in winning hands.
    Of course you are! 3-fan HKOS totally limits one's options. I would think dropping the minimum to 1 would help spice things up.

    I've been looking at the Shanghai and Taiwanese 16-tile style as written in Amy Lo's "The book of Mah Jong" and I'm leaning more towards Taiwanese style for its higher winning combinations compared to old HK's, but not as overwhelming as Shanghai's.
    I don't know why you see Shanghai mah-jongg as "overwhelming," yet not so with Taiwanese. I haven't counted the scoring combinations between the two variants as described by Lo, but I imagine they're about equally challenging to learn.

    I was just wondering what's your opinion on this and I would also greatly appreciate it if you could recommend any other styles of Mah Jong that would offer more ways of winning, but not as overwhelming like Shanghai.
    If you're tired of 3-fan HKOS and looking for variety, I would think you'd like MCR. But if you think Shanghai style is overwhelming, maybe you'd also think MCR is overwhelming (but you don't find Taiwanese style overwhelming, so I don't know what's overwhelming to you). Shanghai and Taiwanese and MCR all have a variety of scoring combinations, and the solution is to make a pocket-size card listing them all (no matter which of the three you go for). Of course, your group has to be willing to learn a new variant, and will need to work together to learn the new combinations. You might be able to choose your new variant by means of the questionnaire in FAQ 2a - print it out (or copy and paste it into Word), and delete all variants except O, N, T, and G. Then take the questionnaire and see which you come up with.

    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
    8/8/2014


    Mixing things up, part 2

    >From: Nathan L
    >Sent: Thursday, August 7, 2014 10:40 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mixing things up...
    >I have also heard it referred to as "washing" the tiles.

    That's right, Nathan. I'd forgotten that one.
    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
    8/8/2014


    Called me dead but I'm not - what now?

    >From: Alan G
    >Sent: Thursday, August 7, 2014 7:59 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >what happens if a player declares another player dead and it is not a dead hand?
    >Mrs. G

    Welcome to my website, Mrs. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19-AB. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Every player should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or my book).
    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
    August 7, 2014


    Soapbox rant about ink color

    >From: "cindydalm
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 6:30 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question, or Just a Comment, Depending......
    >Hi Mr Sloper,
    > I very much enjoy reading the information on your web site. I have never failed to find an answer to any question I may have. I especially enjoy the clarifications of the hands on the NMJL card. Of course all in our group were very sad not to have the "NEWS" hand on this year's card, except in Singles and Pairs. But I find this card much more forgiving if you have screwed up and have to find another hand to play.
    > Our group of about 20 plays on Friday mornings. On Tuesdays, any one can come and play, but it is mainly an instruction day for new players and beginners. The understanding with members of the group who come "just to play" is that play might be slower than they might like, but it's their choice to come or not. I put a short ad in our town's paper to let people know about our group. I have been instructing for three years, and I am proud that when I look at our group playing and having fun on Fridays, I see more than half of them have learned the game from me. This does not mean that I am a good player, just that I can teach others! Be that as it may, every time I have a new student, I have to ask myself: "Why on earth does the NMJL insist on using red and green on the card?" It takes hours for students of the game to come to terms (or, as I say, "Have the penny drop") that green on the card does not mean it has to be bams, and red does not mean it has to be craks. I understand about the cost of three-color versus four-color cards. But for cryin' out loud, can't they use blue and yellow to designate different suits? Or purple and orange? Mauve and taupe? ANYTHING but red and green.
    > Off the soap box now. Thank you.
    >Cindy D

    Thanks for the rant, Cindy!      (^_^)/
    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
    August 6, 2014


    Why does plastic fade?

    >From: Karen W
    >Cc: Karen W
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 2:32 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I have a 70"s set with what once was mint green tiles. Quite a beautiful set, complete with catalin (?) racks each a different color. The tiles have faded to the point that you can't tell they were once mint green. I have researched this and no one has ever heard of tiles fading. Do you have any clue why this happened?
    >Thank you,'
    >Karen W

    Hi Karen,
    I don't know why some plastic fades over decades. You could try Googling "why does plastic fade", I suppose.
    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
    August 6, 2014


    Mixing things up

    >From: Jan
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 7:29 AM
    >Subject: Question
    >Is there a term for mixing the tiles before building the walls besides shuffle ? I was asked this question and didn't know of any other term.
    >Thanks, Jan K
    >Have a wonderful day!

    "Mixing," "mushing," "schmooshing," "shuffling"...
    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
    August 6, 2014


    Can I claim a redeemable tile?

    >From: Christine D
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 11:04 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg question
    >Tom, if a player is exposing 4 tiles on a tray with one being a joker, can that person pick up a just discarded tile by another opponent to replace the joker in the exposed tiles and use the joker for another group to call Mah Jongg?
    >Thanks.
    >Chris
    >Sent from my

    >From: Christine D
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 11:30 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    >Tom, I didn't see this question addressed on your website:
    >If a player has four tiles exposed with one being a joker and another player discards that tile, can the player with the exposed tiles pick up that tile to replace the exposed tile and use the joker to complete another group and call Mah Jongg? Hope I explained good. Thanks. Chris
    >Sent from my

    Hi, Christine.
    Welcome to my website. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19G. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 6, 2014


    What if two players go dead in a 3P game?

    >From: judyrm
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 12:07 PM
    >Subject: Maj Question
    >Playing at table of 3, two players were called dead, do they pay the remaining player ?
    >I guess it could happen w/ table of 4 also, does remaining player get paid ?
    >Thank you,
    >Judy M

    It depends on how the two players went dead, Judy. Two players going dead in a 3P game is the same thing as three going dead in a regular 4P game (as I told Karin on July 29 and Cathy on July 8, below). Read Frequently Asked Question 19-BW. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 6, 2014

    Since this question has been asked three times in the past four weeks, I've now added FAQ 19-CC to answer it. - Tom


    What does "like" mean?

    >From: Sara M.
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 5, 2014 2:20 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Refers to the 2014 Card under the "369" section; 3rd and 5th hand configurations. Can the configuration "33 66 99 3333 3333" (any 3 suits, Like Kongs, 3, 6 or 9)
    >For example is the following configuration ok? 33 66 99 = Bams; 3333 = Cracks; 3333 = Dots. But would 33 66 99 = Bams; 6666 = Cracks and/or 9999 Dots be valid?
    >Similarly for the configuration "333 66 999 333 333 (Any 2 Suits, Like Pungs 3, 6 or 9) - Does "333 66 999" = Bams; Then a second suit is cracks can you use 333 or 666 or 999? Or does it have to be "333 333" which would mean using two jokers?
    >Hope this makes sense. It came up in our game today.
    >Appreciate your answer.
    >Sara D

    Hi Sara, you wrote:

    Can the configuration "33 66 99 3333 3333" (any 3 suits, Like Kongs, 3, 6 or 9)
    >For example is the following configuration ok? 33 66 99 = Bams; 3333 = Cracks; 3333 = Dots. But would 33 66 99 = Bams; 6666 = Cracks and/or 9999 Dots be valid?
    No. Nines and sixes are not "like kongs." "Like" means "similar." The League wants the two kongs to be either both threes, both sixes, or both nines. Because the two kongs are different colors, they have to be different suits (and different suits from the 33 66 99).

    Similarly for the configuration "333 66 999 333 333 (Any 2 Suits, Like Pungs 3, 6 or 9) - Does "333 66 999" = Bams; Then a second suit is cracks can you use 333 or 666 or 999? Or does it have to be "333 333" which would mean using two jokers?
    It says "like pungs," and the two pungs are shown in one color. You have to have two identical pungs of either threes or sixes or nines. You do have to use at least two jokers. Read Frequently Asked Question 19-AU. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 5, 2014


    Column 614

    >From: "krrrad
    >Sent: Monday, August 4, 2014 10:25 AM
    >Subject: Column 614- example #10
    >Hi Tom,
    >Greetings from the Washington, D.C. metro area. Re your example, since the 1's are in cracks, and the dragons are green, then the 9's have to be dots, not cracks, right? Keep up the good work on your column. It's very informative Karen R..

    Very good, Karen! I've made that fix.
    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
    August 4, 2014


    Surely you have lists of clubs or meet-ups

    >From: Tyrone C
    >Sent: Sunday, August 3, 2014 7:00 PM
    >Subject: Mahjong in Orange County
    >Hi Tom,
    >Great site! My friends and I have played Taiwanese style Mahjong for a couple months now. We are all beginners and I'm afraid we're not learning much from each other. Do you know of any clubs or local meet ups in the Orange County, CA area? I browsed the "find player" forum, but did not find anybody close that plays Taiwanese style.
    >-Tyrone

    Hi Tyrone,
    I have put everything I know into this website. I am not sitting on any secret treasure trove list of players or clubs. You should also try doing some of the things listed in FAQ 15. Good luck!
    May the players 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
    August 3, 2014


    The ratio of luck to skill

    >From: Ian L
    >Sent: Sunday, August 3, 2014 8:51 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is.
    >Hello Tom. Thanks for being there! I just purchased your book from Amazon, and am looking forward to receiving it.
    >What would you say the percentage of luck to skill ratio would be for Mah-jong? Backgammon, I believe, is 75% skill. Also, is there more luck in the American version of Mah-Jongg?
    >Many thanks,
    >Ian

    That's excellent that you've ordered my book, Ian. I hope you enjoy it. To address your questions:

    What would you say the percentage of luck to skill ratio would be for Mah-jong?
    This is a topic we discussed a lot on the mah-jongg newsgroup (news:rec.games.mahjong) some years back, when usenet was oft used.  We were not able to come up with a standardized method for quantifying how much skill vs. how much luck is involved in a game beyond this:  
    1. To begin, it should be assumed that luck comes to everyone in fairly equal amounts, in the long run.  In the overall scheme of things.  
    2. At the end of one night of play, the skillful player has probably done pretty well.  But sometimes it's a lucky player who has won overall.  If you examine players' win/lose ratios over a longer period of time (like a year) then it's bound to be the skillful player who is way out ahead in the long run.  
    3. We each have cycles of winning and losing when playing against other players who have about equal skills.  But when playing with players who are very skilled, you are likely to win a lot less overall.  
    4. When playing in tournaments, it's mostly skillful players who compete, and it's usually the same extremely skilled players who win consistently.  So skill is more important than luck. In the long run.  
    5. To truly come up with numbers for this question, I guess, we'd need a ratio of unskilled players who beat skilled players.  In my experience, unskilled players do sometimes win over skilled players, but it's the skilled players who win in the end.  
    Hope that helps put the "skill versus luck" question into some perspective?

    Also, is there more luck in the American version of Mah-Jongg?
    It's pretty well balanced. The same principles arrived at by the international participants of the newsgroup apply equally to American mah-jongg.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 3, 2014


    There ought to be a rule... or then again...

    >From: Chris S
    >Sent: Saturday, August 2, 2014 8:29 AM
    >Subject: Table Talk
    >Hi Tom,
    >In response to Rhendy's note about table talk [July 30, below], I thought it would be an
    >interesting experiment where table talk was explicitly encouraged. Now
    >of course it should be illegal to show anyone your tiles, but I'd like
    >to try a few sessions where I could say anything I like about my tiles.
    >Of course, it would be up to the other players to determine if I were
    >telling the truth, or if I were hoping to nudge a certain discard from
    >their hands. :)
    >Best,
    >Chris

    Hi Chris,
    That's another way a group could go. At the very least, the suggestion to step up the table talk opens the door to discussion about the wisdom of table talk (or the wisdom of listening to table talk).
    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
    August 2, 2014


    When can she redeem a joker?

    > From: Carla B
    > Sent: Friday, August 1, 2014 10:44 AM
    > Subject: [no subject]
    > Hi,
    > Some one exposed two 5's and two jokers. Then a few minutes passed and she said she realized she had another 5 in her hand. When can she take the joker? Does she have to wait for her turn?
    > Thanks

    Hi, Carla.
    "A few minutes passed," you say - so I assume she discarded and it was not her turn any more. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19M and FAQ 19AF. You'll find links to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ #19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 1, 2014


    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!

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