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1. "Mah-Jongg 101"
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The Mah Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION.

Hi. I'm Tom Sloper. Welcome to my bulletin board. Here you can ask questions about Mah-Jongg, and get answers, usually within hours!
  • But BEFORE YOU ASK YOUR QUESTION, PLEASE CHECK THE FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), and please scroll down and see if your question has already been asked and answered on the board.
  • PLEASE READ FAQ 19 BEFORE ASKING ABOUT AMERICAN / NMJL RULES. Your question has probably already been answered there. (See links at left. Look for the "American" icon , or just click this.)
  • IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT THE NMJL CARD, PLEASE READ FAQ 16. (See links at left. Look for the "American" icon: , or just click this.)
  • When you're ready to ask your question, email your question to TomSloperama.com. I answer mah-jongg questions that are submitted by email only - telephoned questions are not welcome.


    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.

    Rules: 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.
    Please don't ask me to click links to get more information about your question. Give me all the information in your email. Photos are okay as emailed attachments (JPG or PNG format, not PDF format).
    Please do not ask computer-game support questions here; read FAQ 24 to learn how to get tech support.
    If you are seeking a "Mah-Jong Solitaire" tile-matching game, please read FAQ 12.
    For reader enjoyment, humor is sometimes used in the responses that I give. Please don't be offended by a response given in the spirit of reader enlightenment and entertainment.
    Terms of service and privacy policy: The free service that I offer is limited to what you see here on this website. I answer questions submitted by email ONLY (I do not do telephone Q&A), and I never give free private answers. "When you email me, I own it." The price of the information I give is that it is given only in this public forum. Your email may be edited before posting.
    No information you provide through this website shall be deemed confidential. Emailing me with a question or comment on this topic constitutes your permission for your words to be made public. (Business inquiries and scholar/journalist queries are of course treated with all due confidentiality.) Your last name and email address will usually be omitted (exceptions: Find Players/Teachers posts, buyer/seller posts, and event organizer posts).
    The first time someone asks a question here, I send a reply email to let you know that you should come back and see your answer. If your email address is protected by a service that wants me to click a link and prove myself to be human, I don't click the link. You'll need to check back here to find your answer.
    This is an information exchange, not a social site. Due to the actions of spammers, all users' posts go through me, and I when I post them, I omit email addresses (with exceptions as stated above). I have learned from experience that many (if not most) posters want their contact information to be kept private. Please do not ask to be put in touch with other people who've posted here, if their email addresses are not shown here. Please don't put me in that uncomfortable position.
    Please note that this site is NOT associated with the National Mah Jongg League. Although questions about the League's card and rules are welcome here, please read FAQ 16 and FAQ 19 to see if your question has already been answered. Also, you can click here to learn how to contact the NMJL directly.


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    Keep scrolling - the Q&A is below.





  • Should I call myself dead?

    >From: Geri H
    >Sent: Friday, August 28, 2015 6:30 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is
    > Must a player who realizes her hand is dead, by virtue of what has been discarded, announce it herself or should she continue to play until an opponent notices that the hand is dead?
    > We are new players to Mah- Jongg and this came up in our game. Please settle the dispute. Thanks.

    Hi, Geri.
    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. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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 28, 2015


    Who pays double when I win by joker redemption?

    >From: Judith S
    >Sent: Thursday, August 27, 2015 5:47 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If I exchange a tile for an exposed joker and that joker gives me Mahjongg, have I picked my own mahjongg tile (therefore winning double) or has the player whose joker was exposed “thrown” the majongg tile (causing that player to pay me double) or did I just win the game with no penalties or bonuses?

    Hi, Judith.
    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 Frequently Asked Question 19-AN. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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
    August 27, 2015


    Can I expose a 2015?

    >From: Francine J...
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2015 8:14 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can a player call for a single if they have 2015 or can it only be shown if you have mag jongg given those tiles are all singletons?

    Hi, Francine.
    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 Frequently Asked Question 19-E. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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
    August 25, 2015


    Mah-jongg in error, with exposure

    >From: "lck ...
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2015 2:31 PM
    >Subject: Question
    >A player called Mahjongg and exposed the hand. She then noticed an error and said no she did not have mahjongg yet. Is she allowed to put her tiles back in the tray and continue playing? No one else had exposed her hand.
    >Thanks, Cheryl K

    Cheryl, yes but no. Yes, she puts the exposed tiles back, but no, she does not continue playing.
    She exposed her hand, committing to the play. The play was wrong, and now she's dead. She has to put her tiles back on the sloping front of the rack (only the tiles that were exposed in error - any prior exposures, if any, remain atop the rack). She can go refresh her beverage or get a snack, or check her phone for messages, until someone else wins. (See page 98 of my book, and/or buy a copy of 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
    August 25, 2015


    Can I write on my card?

    >From: June S
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2015 7:54 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Am I allowed to make notations on my Mah Jongg Card? I have notice d c ertain patterns that reoccur in different sections. For example the sequence FF 2222 8888 DDDD has a recurring pattern using FF 1111 9999 DDD and it is also in the consecutive section. I also like to note patterns that contain 2 sets of 3 and no pairs. Etc. May I make my own version of the official card placing things in the groups that I like and play with an amende d c ard?
    >I love your blog.
    >June in Kalamazoo

    Hi, June. You wrote:

    Am I allowed to make notations on my Mah Jongg Card?
    Of course. It's yours. You can do whatever you want to it.

    I have notice d c ertain patterns that reoccur in different sections. For example the sequence FF 2222 8888 DDDD has a recurring pattern using FF 1111 9999 DDD...
    I call that a hand's "shape." I suppose "structure" is a better word. When I'm analyzing a new card for a column, or when I'm teaching a new class about the card, I use the word "pattern" to refer to the numbers and letters. As in, the first Consecutive hand, the pattern is 12345. The pattern of the most powerful hand (Consec. #5 this year) is 1234, but its shape or structure is 3-4-3-4 (pung-kong-pung-kong).

    May I make my own version of the official card placing things in the groups that I like and play with an amende d c ard?
    I imagine the League might take a dim look at that, and regard that as a violation of their copyright.

    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
    August 25, 2015


    Advice for first-time tournament goers, part 2

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Monday, August 24, 2015 11:52 AM
    >Subject: Tournament tips
    >Hi Tom,
    >I was just catching up on your site and saw the question on Aug. 14 about first time tournament play. You gave her great advice. When I wrote to you a few months ago after winning my first big tournament, you asked if I wanted to share my tips and do have a few if you care to post them:
    >
    >1. The biggest error that many first-timers make (and some seasoned pros too) is racking their winning MJ tile when it is thrown. Although it’s not a NJML rule, it has been adopted by all the large regional tournaments as well as the tournaments locally in my area. The tile called for MJ must be put on top of the rack just like a tile you would call and expose. If not, you are called dead. It is a good habit to get into during your regular games, if you plan to venture into this world. Witnessed one of the regular tournament players do this last week which cost her big time as it was a S&P hand.
    >
    >2. Picking tiles from exactly the right place is paramount or you’re out.
    >
    >3. If you push your wall out and there are other tiles still remaining from the previous wall, they must be joined onto the wall. If a player picks a tile from the new wall my mistake, (i/o the remaining tile/s) she is dead and the person who pushed the wall out is also dead. In my local tournaments this is not announced nor written in the rules, so I learned first hand when East called me out for not joining the tile, which was verified later by the director.
    >
    >4. And as you mentioned, if you have any doubts about a situation in play, call the director over. That’s what they are there for. The East at each table is responsible for upholding the rules, but there are times as East I’ve called over the director to reinforce a rule - -mostly the racking of a tile for MJ. Also, there was a time where the person who was East at my table named a tile and then exchanged it for a joker (not allowed!), so I called over the director.
    >
    >4. One strategy that I’ve observed watching some of the top tournament players is they “push” (commit and expose) a hand very quickly because there are penalties for a person who throws MJ to any two exposures. Often this is done defensively as I witnessed in that last tournament when there were two exposures and the person had nothing for the two other parts of the hand. Some of these players will also take a chance throwing out a hot tile if it is early on knowing this strategy.
    >
    >5. As you mentioned play (especially the passing) is fast as 4 games must be completed in 50 minutes and this can be challenging if there are wall games.
    >
    >Thanks Tom for providing this wonderful forum for us Mah Jonggistas. I continue to highly recommend your weekly strategy column to my burgeoning students for it’s value in helping them learn the card so they can more easily pick a hand - -their biggest challenge!
    >Best regards,
    >Donna

    Nice, Donna. I should make this part of a new FAQ!
    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
    August 25, 2015


    Can I make an exposure in stages?

    >From: Carole S
    >Sent: Sunday, August 23, 2015 8:25 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can I call for a tile, exchange for a joker, and then complete my reveal of a segment?

    Hi, Carole. 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 Frequently Asked Question 19-M. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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
    August 23, 2015


    Which player gets the tile?

    >From: Annette S
    >Sent: Sunday, August 23, 2015 5:11 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Who has priority when calling for a tile in the following situation. Person 1 is calling to make an exposure. Person 2 is calling for the tile to redeem a joker and make mahjong.
    >Annette S

    Hi, Annette.
    Player 1 gets the tile. Player 2 is trying to make an illegal move. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-G. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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
    August 23, 2015


    Can I redeem more than one joker, part 2

    >From: Ellen T
    >Sent: Saturday, August 22, 2015 7:12 AM
    >Subject: Re: Taking a joker from another player's exposure
    >Thanks for your very prompt response and the primer on using the Q&A bulletin board. I enjoy your site and find it very helpful.?

    You're welcome, Ellen.
    To readers who may not understand this "primer" reference, that is a reference to the boilerplate response I email to first-time posters, that includes this: "A response has been posted on the Maj Exchange's Q&A bulletin board (http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd.htm).  Wait for the page to load completely, then scroll down to see your answer. The bulletin board is organized with the most recent posts at the top (just beneath the instructions), and oldest posts at the bottom. IF YOU DON'T SEE YOUR NEW ANSWER, THEN YOU NEED TO "REFRESH" OR "RELOAD" THE PAGE TO SEE THE MOST RECENT POSTS. Or use a different browser, like Safari, Chrome, IE, Firefox; one that hasn't been to my site before (this is especially a problem for AOL users, apparently)." Just my little way of trying to circumvent more back-and-forth emails from a new poster who can't see her Q&A (that happened a lot in the past, anyway - I don't know if it's still an issue, since a lot of visitors these days come via iPad).
    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
    August 22, 2015


    Can I redeem more than one joker in a turn?

    >From: Ellen T
    >Sent: Friday, August 21, 2015 8:55 PM
    >Subject: Taking a joker from another player's exposure
    >Is a player allowed to take more than one joker at a time from another player's exposure. Although I searched your site I could not find this subject.
    >Thanks for your help,
    >Ellen T

    Hi, Ellen. Your question is FAQ 19-N. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 21, 2015


    Charleston etiquette

    >From: Terra H
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 19, 2015 2:48 PM
    >Subject: Question about the Charleston
    >I've been playing for 5 years. An experienced player new to our group chided me for not picking up and looking at the 3 tiles he had just passed to me AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. He said it was in the National Mah Jongg rules. I never heard of this. I leave the tiles on the table until the last person picks up. It seems more courteous, especially when we have a beginner at our table, for everyone to have the same amount of time to review the tiles before the next pass. Plus they are my tiles. Can't I pick them up when I feel like it as long as I am not slowing down the game? He says I should look right away to keep play going in an efficient manner. Can you answer?
    >Terra

    Yes, I can answer, Terra.
    In short: you're both wrong. He says you should always pick them up as quickly as possible. You say you should always be the last person to pick them up. Like there's no in between??!

    A major cause of confusion in the Charleston is when someone passes tiles before someone else has picked up (for instance, you pass to the left before your lefty and righty have passed their first across). Now, I'm talking about passing, not picking up, but this is germane to your question. Because someone who abides by your experienced guy's principle could easily pick up the wrong tiles (and pass in the wrong direction) because she's so intent on picking up as quickly as possible. It often happens that someone passes tiles across and is waiting for her across for quite a while (or she's holding her three tiles waiting a long time for a signal from her across), and then the player at her side passes tiles to her, she gets confused as to the proper order, and picks up those tiles out of turn. Then pandemonium erupts as people argue over where they were in the passing.

    I recommend instead that you pass after everyone has picked up the previous pass, and pick up after you've passed. There's no reason not to pick up right after you've passed, if a pass has come to you. There's no good reason to wait to be the last person to pick up -- what if another person is trying to be the last to pick up?

    The tricky pass, of course, is the second left. I go slow between the first left and the second left, to see if anybody is going to stop the dance. I make my pyramid and hold it. But I keep an eye on the other players during this pause. I don't wait forever, and I don't always ask if we are going again. I gauge it by what I observe. If the player at my left is itching to receive my pass but I see another player puzzling, I don't succumb to the pressure from my left; I ask if we're going.

    To return to your question, Terra, I disagree with always picking up "as quickly as possible," and I also disagree with "be the last one to pick up." Your experienced guy is right about one thing -- it's very important to keep the Charleston moving reasonably quickly. Because it's when it goes slow that confusion and disharmony can occur.

    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
    August 19, 2015


    This week's column, part 3

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Monday, August 17, 2015 4:25 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Yes you are right, I made two errors, reading the two bams as three bams, and typing #5 instead of typing #4. I am not sure why I thought the two bams looked like three bams as I do know what they look like, maybe the heat got to me! All is well at sloperama.com!
    >Bee

    Hi, Bee.
    No problem. I'm sure you had good reason to expect to find a goof somewhere in the column, given my past record! (^_^) There's usually one in there somewhere (well, if "usually" means "half the time, or maybe a little less").
    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
    August 17, 2015


    This week's column, part 2

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Monday, August 17, 2015 12:15 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >In response to your question on my email for Column 642, your #5 shows only 3 three bams, your explanation of using 2,3,4,5 should have 4 three bams instead, and odds #2 needs 4 three bams as well, so there is no hand on the card, I believe she is dead.
    >Bee

    Hi, Bee.
    I believe you're mistaken. Yesterday you were talking about puzzle #4 in column #642 (dated August 16). Today you're talking about puzzle #5? I think you're still talking about puzzle #4, and I also think that you have mistaken 2B for 3B

    Puzzle 5 shows three 2D and three 4D. Puzzle 4 shows three 2B and four 5C. Three bams are not shown in either puzzle. And 2B and 3B are easy enough to distinguish.

    If I did something wrong, I do want to correct it. But in this instance I believe you're mistaken. 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
    August 17, 2015


    This week's column

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Sunday, August 16, 2015 8:44 PM
    >Subject: Column 642
    >#4 I think she is dead as consecutive #5 would need 4 three bams not 3, if she is going for 2 & 3 in bams and 4 and 5 in craks. Or she would need only 3 five craks instead of 4 if going for 3 & 4 in bams and 5 & 6 in craks.
    >Do you agree?
    >Bee

    Hi, Bee. I don't follow you. Are you sure you're looking at Consec. #5 on the 2015 card? There's only one way she can make the hand: 2345. 222 3333 444 5555. It's a four-number hand in two suits. She has the twos and the fives. She needs the threes and fours. Or am I the one who's missing something?
    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
    August 16, 2015


    She picked a tile from the wrong end, discarded, and was called dead. But then...

    >From: "judimahjonggfunla.com"
    >Sent: Saturday, August 15, 2015 4:09 PM
    >Subject: mah jongg question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Something came up in our game yesterday and I wasn't sure of the answer. A lady picked, racked and discarded from the wrong end of the wall. We called her dead, but someone wanted to call the tile she discarded. We discussed it and decided that the lady who wanted it should be able to take it because why should she be penalized and not get that tile since she was not the one to make the mistake. It was not her mahj tile and she said she would have gotten it when we got down to that end of the wall anyways. My other thought was what if the tile she discarded was not the one that she just picked. In this case it was. What are your thoughts.
    >I posted this on Mah Jongg That's It, but nobody has come up with an answer.
    >Judi Nachenberg
    >Mah Jongg Fun L.A.

    Hi, Judi.
    Your decision at the time was the right one. The erroneous play had been made, and the tile had been discarded before the player was declared dead. If the declaration had been made before the discard, no discard would have been made and the question would not have come up at all. But the declaration was made afterwards, and whether or not the play was valid, the discard was a discard, with an open window of opportunity on it.
    Consider that if we take a different view and say that the discard is not live, then arguably we're saying that every move that happens from this point is invalid because the order of tiles from the wall was ruined. In other words: if this tile is invalid, then every subsequent tile is invalid, and the game should be thrown in. And that line of reasoning doesn't hold water.
    As a precedent, consider what happens when someone misnames a discard, and the name the namer speaks is someone's mahj tile; the game is over, and the caller of the misnamed tile wins. I think that lays the grounds for the legality of calling a discard subsequent to an error.
    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
    August 15, 2015


    She flipped the joker because it was unredeemable

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Friday, August 14, 2015 9:09 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Playing American Mah Jongg yesterday. a player would turn over her joker if the tile the joker replaced was on the table. She would say that the joker was dead. Another player said that doing what she had done and telling others a tile is dead is against the rules. I said I don’t think it is NMJL rule but that it shouldn’t be done since you are giving information to others players and all p layers should be paying attention to what has been discarded. I considered it a matter of MJ etiquette but said I would check with you. So here is my question: Is there a rule that says a player can’t turn over her joker and tell the other players that the tile is dead? Thanks, for all your help. Lynn

    Lynn, there's no written rule on this, one way or the other. But it's a bad idea to flip the joker, for exactly the reason you stated: players should BE OBSERVANT and THINK. They shouldn't be coddled and spoonfed information that should be self-evident to an observant aware player. That said, I admit that in the past I myself considered flipping a joker, based on your flipper's thinking.
    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
    August 14, 2015


    Advice for first-time tournament goer

    >From: Jean G
    >Sent: Friday, August 14, 2015 7:58 AM
    >Subject: participating in a tournament
    >Good morning Tom,
    >I am participating in a tournament (NMJL rules) for the first time next Wednesday, and wonder if there is any advice you can give me? Participants have self identified by years of playing experience, and I am in the 5-10 years group.
    >Thanks!
    >Jean G.

    Okay. In no particular order:

  • Forget the table rules you usually use. Tournaments don't have "hot walls" or "double dice," and never permit picking ahead.
  • Listen well to the rules if announced at the beginning, and read well the handouts you're given, if any. Scoring is in points instead of coins, so there are some differences.
  • This won't be a chatfest. Chatting is for between-rounds only, well away from the tables. People who are competing need to think. The key word there is "competing." Tournaments involve prizes and may involve Mah Jongg Master Points, which follow you from tournament to tournament nationwide.
  • If there's a disagreement at the table about an error or a situation, raise your hand and call for a judge to come and give you a ruling.
  • Don't give information about what you're doing, what tiles you're holding or waiting for, or what strategy you're using. If you stop the passing after the first Charleston, don't explain why. If you think someone might be dead, either call her dead or don't (don't ask her if she's dead). [Note: this advice always applies, not only for tournaments.]
  • Pay attention to what's going on at the table. When it's your turn to serve the wall or to deal, be on top of it and do your job. [See note above.]
  • Be gracious and cooperative. You might make new friends. If you err and have to take a penalty, take it in stride; it happens to everyone. [See note above.]
  • Relax and have fun. There will be hyper-competitive types there, but mostly really nice ladies, and plenty of other newbies just like you.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 14, 2015


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

    >From: "catdshack
    >Sent: Thursday, August 13, 2015 1:36 PM
    >Subject: touching another player's rack
    >I wanted to swap a 4 crak for a joker that was exposed and I put the 4 crak on the player's rack and waited for her to hand me the joker -- she told me I could not touch her rack with my hand or a tile --is that correct? Seems rather strict

    Welcome to my website, catdshack.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-CF. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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
    August 13, 2015


    The League doesn't replace tiles; they just send you a stickers

    >>>>From: Raquel G
    >>>>Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 11:45 AM
    >>>>Subject: I need 1 Tile
    >>>>Color: Bone
    >>>>Bought the set - 3 years ago.
    >>>>image1.JPG
    >>>>Let me know if anyone has it. Thanks.
    >>>>It’s not important to hold all the good cards in life, but it’s important how well you play with the cards you hold.


    >>>From: Raquel G
    >>>Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 4:08 PM
    >>>Subject: Buy a missing Tile
    >>>Dimensions: Regular size
    >>>Color: White
    >>>Material the tiles are made of: Resin????
    >>>Picture attached
    >>>image1.JPG
    >>>It’s not important to hold all the good tiles in a hand, it is important how you use them.


    >>On Aug 12, 2015, at 6:49 PM, Tom Sloper wrote:
    >>your two emails were combined. You don't need to send a third.
    >>see http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/wanted.htm

    >From: Raquel
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 4:55 PM
    >Subject: Re: Buy a missing Tile
    >Thank you- was not sure the first one made it.
    >By the way, the National Mahjongg League doesn't replace tiles
    >they just send you a stickers.
    >"It's not important to hold all the good cards in life, but it's important how well you play with the cards you hold."

    I find that hard to believe, Raquel. Why would the League's website say this, if it's not true...?

      Rescuing Mah Jongg Sets
      If you have lost tiles from your set or have an older set that needs additional tiles, the League will make an attempt to obtain a match for your set. If you need a tile or tiles, send it to us, in an insulated bag (jiffy bag). Request the specific tiles needed, be it a Joker, Flower or Symbol. The League will obtain the nearest match to your set and substitute the new tile, putting a Joker, Flower or Symbol decal on your tile. This gives the best "mix" of tiles, since all tiles age somewhat differently.

      The League will do its utmost to provide symbol tiles exactly as requested. Price is $5.00 per tile ($6.00 for bamboo), including postage. Please include check or money order with your request.

    Maybe you contacted them and they didn't have a tile exactly like yours. That doesn't mean they are lying about the tile rescue service they offer.
    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
    August 12, 2015


    Passing up a win to win off somebody else

    >From: Chad
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 8:04 PM
    >Subject: American Mahjong: Targeting players?
    >Hello Tom,
    >I'm usually a player of HKOS and Riichi mahjong, but I've been reading a lot about American Mahjong and quickly becoming more and more interested in it. I looked through the FAQ on it, but couldn't find an answer to my question.
    >I'm sure you know that in many (most?) other variants of mahjong, if Player A discards your winning tile any you neglect it, then Player B discards your winning tile immediately after, you aren't allowed to win off of Player B. Does American Mahjong have any kind of rule like this against targeting players?
    >For example, if Player A was playing with a pie and ran out of money, I would prefer to win off of anyone else's discard instead since it would earn me more money. Am I allowed to neglect the winning tile that Player A discards, and win off of another tile in the same turn?
    >Thank you in advance for your help!
    >- Chad F.

    Hi Chad,
    The American rules have no rule against such a play.
    May the tiles be with you. Come back with more questions!
    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
    August 11, 2015


    When can I redeem a joker, part 2

    >From: Elinor G
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 4:09 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank you. I didn't see it and now I have the answer.

    >From: Elinor g via PayPal
    >To: Thomas Sloper
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 4:07 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 Elinor g (elinor.gregor@gmail.com).
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Elinor g
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thanks for the donation, Elinor! Glad you found your answer.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 11, 2015


    When can I redeem a joker?

    >From: Elinor G
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 2:29 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Can a player pick a discard and expose her tiles and then, in the same turn, redeem a joker from another player's rack? I couldn't find this question in your list. Thank you for your answers! Ellie G

    It's in the list, Ellie. Read FAQ 19-M.
    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 11, 2015


    Believe It Or Not

    >From: tions
    >Sent: Sunday, August 9, 2015 12:42 AM
    >Subject: Robert Ripley
    >Hello , Tom.
    >Bing images search for Robert Ripley Mahjong turned up this image of the
    >cartoon writer for Believe It Or Not on board his yacht in the 1940's.
    >Must be nice to be so rich!
    >Rob and Linda

    Thanks, Rob.
    Kind of begs the question, "why were you searching for Robert Ripley Mahjong in the first place?" (^_^)
    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 11, 2015


    New book for teaching

    >From: Stacey
    >Sent: Friday, August 7, 2015 5:43 PM
    >Subject: Something New for Teachers of Mah Jongg
    >Hello, Tom,
    >First of all let me say I am a BIG fan of the Mah-Jongg-a-rama section of your website www.sloperama.com. I also want to tell you I recently re-joined FB and have been reading many of the posts on "Mah Jongg, That's It!." In fact, two days ago a player posed a question about racking tiles and someone responded by referring to your column #458. I read that article and found very helpful. It makes sense if the calling and the racking seem to happen at the same time we take into consideration if the racker was really quick or not.
    >I just purchased your book The Red Dragon & The West Wind: The Winning Guide to Official Chinese & American Mah-Jongg and can't wait to read it. The reason I am writing to you is because I saw your name on a list of Mah Jongg teachers at www.mahjonggmaven.com and I wanted to let you know about a new teaching tool I have written and published, "Let's Play Modern American Mah Jongg! A Flipbook Reference Guide." Attached is a photo of the cover, and I’ve included a link to my website, where you can find more information and see a few sample pages.
    >I’ve had so much enjoyment and made some wonderful friendships playing Mah Jongg. As a career classroom teacher, I’m pleased to know of people like you who are working to help newcomers get into the game.
    >When I first began learning, I found some good, full-length books about Mah Jongg, but not a guidebook with quick answers to help a confused novice like me navigate actual game situations. Seeing a need, I decided to write one.
    >Gregg Swain, co-author of “Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game,” recently gave my flipbook a thumbs-up and has recommended it for teachers and learners of American Mah Jongg. I’m charging $9.99 (plus tax where applicable and $3.99 for shipping/handling), and I’m offering a “joker special” of free shipping for those who purchase 8 or more copies. I hope you'll consider buying a copy and, if you like it you will want to order some copies for your students.
    >Happy Mah Jongging,
    >Stacey Rea
    >Author of "Let's Play Modern American Mah Jongg! A Flipbook Reference Guide"
    >?Available for purchase here:?
    >Website: www.26thavenuepress.com
    >Twitter: @mahjongg_stacey
    >Instagram: staceyrea1955
    >Please "LIKE" my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Letsplaymahjongg

    Cool, Stacey. Too bad you already bought my book - I would have suggested we trade. I'll definitely check out your flipbook.
    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
    August 7, 2015


    can you call back 1 or two tiles that were missed?

    >From: lexicon <tyson2008
    >Sent: Friday, August 7, 2015 2:25 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >when you play the regular rule, can you call back 1 or two tiles that were missed? what happens to their future?

    Lexi, I have to say that it sounds to me like you don't play by the regular rules. In the regular (official) rules, a turn works this way:
    Player is holding 13 tiles while other players are taking their turns. She does not have a "future" tile - she has 13 tiles only.
    When it's her turn, the player picks a tile from the wall. Now she has 14 tiles.
    If she can't declare mah-jongg or use the picked tile to redeem a joker, she can put the tile in her rack among her other concealed tiles, or jump to the next step:
    She can discard the tile (or a tile from her hand). Now she has 13 tiles again.
    Lexi, it sounds to me like you don't play that way. If you don't play that way, I can't tell you how the "window of opportunity" on a discard should work under your rules! Please read Frequently Asked Question 14. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    If you want to know how the "window of opportunity" works in the official rules, read FAQ 19-C and read columns 458 and 639. You can link to the columns above. If I have misunderstood your question, please ask it again, using different words, and I'll try my best to give you a better answer.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 7, 2015


    Is it permissible to redeem a joker and discard it?

    >From: laney
    >Sent: Thursday, August 6, 2015 7:17 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Dear Mr. Sloper:
    >This came up several times yesterday with my mah jongg group. If an opponent's hand is exposed with two tiles plus a joker and
    >you pick a tile that matches the exposed two tiles in that hand, and you do not need or want a joker, but you do not want any of the other players
    >to get the joker on a subsequent play (since there is still one more tile that matches the exposed tiles in the hand being discussed, which could still be picked),
    >is it permissible to replace the joker with a matching tile and discard the joker, so it becomes a dead tile? I know you will be making the player's hand jokerless;
    >however, if you you feel it is more important to you that you do not leave the joker in the exposure for someone else to get later in the game, are you
    >allowed to replace the joker and discard the joker?
    >Thank you so much for answering this question. I have only been playing mah jongg for a couple of summers, but your book
    >"The Red Dragon and The West Wind" has helped me so much.
    >Laney G

    Hi, Laney.
    There is no rule against that. Be aware that the other players may get ticked off at you, especially if you immediately discard the joker. I suggest you carry a copy of Mah Jongg Made Easy, in case somebody accuses you of breaking a rule. You can hand her the book and ask her to "show me the rule." She won't be able to, proving your point that no such rule exists.
    But she'll still be ticked off. Better to redeem the joker on one turn, and then discard the joker on a later turn. Unless you can't (and so what if somebody don't like it).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 6, 2015


    Can I use a joker in a pair in Australian/British mah-jongg?

    >From: Bob S
    >Sent: Thursday, August 6, 2015 10:38 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can you use a Joker with a pair in the came written by Thompson and Maloney. Example pair of 2 Bams.

    Hi, Bob.
    The American game has detailed rules about how jokers may be used, but the Australian/British game does not. The Australian/British game recognizes jokers as optional tiles -- most players don't use them at all. Players who use them are responsible for deciding all the details about their use.
    You should assume that jokers can be used for absolutely anything - any tile (except flowers, of course) and any kind of grouping, be it pung, kong, chow, or pair. Even for singles. But see FAQ 14: when you make a table rule, you have to tell newcomers how your rule works. And you have to adapt to the rules of another house where you play. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    On this website, the vast majority of questions I get are about American rules, and the vast majority of people never bother to tell me that they play American rules. So all the things I tell those folks about how jokers may be used is of no concern to you, since you are playing Australian/British rules.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 6, 2015


    Is she allowed to call herself dead?

    >From: Karen W
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 5, 2015 4:47 PM
    >Subject: Mahjong Question Re Declaring Dead
    >Player 1 needs a pair to Mahjong (3 Bams). She has only 1 of the two needed. The other 3 Bams have been discarded so she knows she cannot Mahjong. None of the other players are aware of this. She draws a Red Dragon. She knows Players 2 and 4 are each saving Red Dragons and she's pretty sure one of them will Mahjong on her discard of the Red Dragon. So she discards her 3 Bam and declares herself dead, stating she knows she cannot Mahjong. Is this permitted? I objected to this and believe it to be poor sportsmanship. You say?
    >Sent from my iPad. Karen

    Hi, Karen. As I told Gini yesterday when she also asked this question (below):
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-AC. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. 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, just today I made FAQ 19 easier for iPad users to navigate and use. 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
    August 5, 2015


    She had a "change of heart" while touching the discard

    >From: Elaine L
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 4, 2015 4:20 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: if a tile is down and a player is contemplating calling never picks it off the table changes her mind. Because she had her hand on the tile does she have to use it? I say no another player says yes.
    >Elainel

    Hi, Elaine.
    The "change of heart" FAQ is FAQ 19-AM. You can link to the FAQs ("Frequently Asked Questions") 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 4, 2015


    Am I obligated to call myself dead?

    >From: Gini S
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 4, 2015 11:01 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: If during gameplay, I notice that I myself have the wrong number of tiles on my rack, am I obligated to point it out and declare my hand dead? Or is it the responsibility of the other players to call me dead?
    >THanks

    Hi, Gini. Please read "Frequently Asked Question" 19-AC. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. 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 4, 2015


    Can I use a joker in a 2015?

    >From: Carol R
    >Sent: Monday, August 3, 2015 6:10 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom,
    >Can you use a joker in the 2015?

    Hi, Carol.
    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
    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
    August 3, 2015


    Quints #2

    >From: Emily M
    >Sent: Monday, August 3, 2015 1:35 PM
    >Subject: question on quints
    >This is not a rule question, so much as a reading comprehension question.
    >Today at our game two players interpreted the wording one way and two another way. The second two cited information they followed playing in another group.
    >This concerns the second hand in quints.
    >The instructions are:
    >Any 3 con sec.No’s, pr any No. in run; pr and quints match.
    >Our teammates insisted PR.ANY NO. IN RUN meant that the pair had to be the first number (as it is displayed on the card)
    >How can we resolve this?
    >Thank you,
    >Emily M

    Hi, Emily.
    Your teammates interpret English in a novel way!
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 16 (FAQs about this year's NMJL card). You can link to the FAQs above left. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    By the way, this question is also answered in the NMJL's FAQs page (https://www.nationalmahjonggleague.org/faq.html).
    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
    August 3, 2015


    One wants the discard for chow and one wants it for pung - who gets it?

    >From: janice W
    >Sent: Friday, July 31, 2015 7:39 PM
    >Subject: Chinese mah-jongg question
    >After two players have each declared that they are "one away," a third player discards a tile which each wants in order to win. One needs it to complete a chow and one needs it to complete a pung. Which one is entitled to the tile?
    >Thank you so much for your help.
    >Jan W

    Hi, Jan.
    Welcome to my website. Please read Frequently Asked Question 20-H. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 20 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 Chinese mah-jongg are found in FAQ 20. 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
    July 31, 2015


    What's the deal with these blank tiles, part 2

    >From: Lucy C
    >Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2015 9:25 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank you Tom. It looks like my flapper Grandmother had a 1920's Chinese set.

    Sounds like it to me! Thank you, come again!


    What's the deal with these blank tiles and no soap?

    >From: Lucy C
    >Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2015 8:03 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >I have just started learning to play Mah Jongg with some friends. I have an old set that was my grandmothers. It is Chinese and from the 1920’s. In comparing the tiles with the modern sets it appears there are a couple differences. The modern ones have four “soap” tiles or white dragons and eight jokers. My set only has two colors of dragons (red and green) and eight blank tiles. Can you please explain this difference for me?
    >Kindest regards,
    >Lucy
    >LMCLMTD

    Hi, Lucy.
    Your mystery is explained in at least three places in my "Frequently Asked Questions," which you can link to above left. You could see FAQ 7a, but FAQ 7b might satisfy you a bit more. And I think you'll enjoy reading FAQ 7e. In each FAQ, you can do a search for the word "blank." Your mystery will be solved!
    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
    July 30, 2015


    I thought you couldn't use jokers to make a pair.

    >From: Karen L W
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2015 7:21 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >At my local game on Monday, a player was making the hand ff 1111 2222 3333. In order to call mahjong she used two jokers instead of two flowers. Her hand looked like this: jj 1111 2222 3333. I thought you couldn't use jokers to make a pair. Was she correct with this move?

    Karen, read the back of the card. The answer is in all capital letters, bold, and underlined. Or you can read "Frequently Asked Question" 19-E. (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
    July 28, 2015


    Can I be called dead if I'm dogging my hand in the hot wall?

    >From: Darlene S
    >Sent: Monday, July 27, 2015 11:28 PM
    >Subject: Dead Hand
    >We all know that you can declare a hand dead for too many/too few tiles, incorrect exposure, etc. My question is this:
    >Near the end of the game, when you have started picking from the hot wall, you pick a tile which you know one of the players needs, possibly for mah jongg, because of the exposures she has. You also have exposures for your hand. Not wanting to give the other player mah jongg, you discard a tile from your hand that now makes your hand dead. Can you, or would you, call my hand dead?
    >Thanks
    >Darlene

    Hi, Arlene.
    Certainly someone can call you dead when it's clear that you have destroyed your hand defensively. But would I? That depends. If I'm the one you're defending against, I might. But I might recognize that it's useless (that you probably have the tile I need, know it, and you won't throw it), and would just prolong the inevitable wall game. Or if I need to dog my hand too, I might not call you dead, or I might break up my hand and hope somebody will call me dead.
    Also, the official rules do not support wall "temperature." If you're using a "hot wall" table rule, you and your group have to figure out all the ramifications of that table rule.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 27, 2015

    P.S. When there are just a few tiles left in the wall, it's common practice to dog the hand. Most players will know that's what you're doing, and even if they can see you've just killed your hand, they won't bother calling you dead. But if a player perceives that calling you dead might give her an advantage (or if she's absolutely certain you'd never throw her tile because you know what she needs), she can certainly do so.


    I was taught to play "fourteen tiles" style (picking ahead)

    >From: "pj51477
    >Sent: Sunday, July 26, 2015 7:11 AM
    >Subject: Question about calling for a discarded tile
    >When I was taught Mah Jongg years ago, I remember a rule where you discarded a tile and placed the picked tile on top of your rack until it was you turn again. Then you can add to the tile to the rack. Also, if a discarded tile was called for, you had to pass this tile on top to the person on your left, right or across, depending on who discarded the tile. Are you familiar with this rule? I would like to teach my daughters the game and can't find anything on this rule.
    >Jean W

    Hi, Jean. Your question:

    I remember a rule where you discarded a tile and placed the picked tile on top of your rack until it was you turn again. Then you can add to the tile to the rack. Also, if a discarded tile was called for, you had to pass this tile on top to the person on your left, right or across, depending on who discarded the tile. Are you familiar with this rule?
    That was never an official rule (actually, maybe it was a rule before 1956 - see FAQ 19R). If you look on the back of the NMJL card, rule 1 says: "NO PICKING OR LOOKING AHEAD" - it's said that since 1956.

    I would like to teach my daughters the game and can't find anything on this rule.
    I recommend that you teach your daughters to play according to the official rules instead. A player holds 13 tiles in the hand until it's her turn. THEN, she picks a tile from the wall and places it on the sloping front of the rack, among her concealed tiles. You ought to buy (and read) an official rulebook if you're going to teach somebody how to play the right way. "Mah Jongg Made Easy" is available from the League's website, or from mah-jongg vendors listed in FAQ 4A.

    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
    July 26, 2015


    Gay players in L.A., part 2

    >From: jeff tannen
    >Sent: Friday, July 24, 2015 7:06 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom-
    >Thank you so very much. That is great. I so much appreciate your reply and the information you've given me will be useful, i'm sure.
    >Best wishes,
    >Jeff


    Gay players in L.A.?

    >From: jeff tannen <urbantherapist gmail.com>
    >Sent: Friday, July 24, 2015 2:54 PM
    >Subject: Learn MahJongg
    >Learn may Jong
    >Hi I would like to learn to play may Jong with other like minded gay men here in Los Angeles.Its ok if others aren't gay.Can you let me know if you teach Mar Jongg.
    >My name is Jeff and I live in Beverly Hills area. My phone is 310 405 2360.
    >I look forward to hearing from you.
    >Thanks,
    >Jeff Tannen

    >From: jeff tannen <urbantherapist gmail.com>
    >Sent: Friday, July 24, 2015 3:02 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Are there any gay men's groups in Los Angeles.?
    >Thanks,
    >Jeff

    Hi Jeff,
    I know that there are gay players in L.A., because I have taught some gay men how to play. I cannot give you any contact information (it would be prohibitively time-consuming to dig through my records, and that might not even turn up the information - and my policy is that I don't give out personal information anyway), but I can (and will) post this on the Find Players board as well as the Q&A board. You can look through the Find Players board to see if you can find male names in the L.A. area. If you want to take one of my classes, I will be running a class in October at American Jewish University: see http://wcce.aju.edu/
    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
    July 24, 2015


    Please update my Find Players listing

    >From: Marilyn Lang <mlang.5{at}aol dot com>
    >To: Webmaster{at}Sloperama dot com
    >Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2015 2:27 PM
    >Subject: Looking for a MJ game
    >Marilyn Lang
    >American Mah Jongg
    >Lindenhurst, NY
    >I am an experienced fast player looking for a day game. I live in Lindenhurst, NY --will travel about 1/2 hour-Nassau or Suffolk
    >mlang.5{at}aol dot com

    >From: Tom Sloper <webmaster{at}sloperama dot com>
    >To: Marilyn Lang <mlang.5{at}aol dot com>
    >Sent: Thu, Jul 23, 2015 5:33 pm
    >Subject: Re: Looking for a MJ game
    >you already have an announcement on the board.
    >Tom Sloper
    >- Senior Lecturer, Video Games, Information Technology Program, Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California. http://itp.usc.edu/faculty-staff/Tom-Sloper/
    >- Sloperama Productions. Services for game developers and publishers; "Making Games Fun, And Getting Them Done." http://www.sloperama dot com/business.html
    >- Helpful information and bulletin boards for game industry hopefuls. http://www.sloperama dot com/advice.html
    >- The Mah-Jongg FAQs. Information and bulletin boards about the game of mah-jongg. http://www.sloperama dot com/mjfaq.html
    >- Author of The Red Dragon &The West Wind, the definitive book on official Chinese & American mah-jongg.

    >From: Marilyn Lang <mlang.5{at}aol dot com>
    >To: webmaster{at}sloperama dot com
    >Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2015 2:39 PM
    >Subject: Re: Looking for a MJ game
    >can we update it? I got no responses

    Moving your listing up to the top will not increase the likelihood of your finding players. You seem to think that the way that board works is:

      1. Visitor comes to Find Players bulletin board.
      2. Visitor scrolls down looking for players in her local area
      3. Visitor doesn't find anything after scrolling through just a few entries (before ever getting as far down as June 7 - only a month and a half ago!), gives up and goes away.

    But that's a terrible way to use the board! A much better way is:

      1. Visitor comes to Find Players bulletin board.
      2. Visitor reads instructions atop the board.
      3. Visitor uses the browser's search utility to find instances of "Lindenhurst" or "Nassau" or "Suffolk"
      4. Oh! The humanity is found!
      5. Visitor contacts you because she found you, by using a smart search method.

    Because method #2 will work and get people to contact you, and method #1 won't work for impatient visitors, I see no need to "update" your post (i.e. move your month-old post to the top).
    May the tiles players 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
    July 23, 2015


    Is rolling dice an official rule? (part 2)

    >From: betsy n
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 22, 2015 5:26 PM
    >Subject: Re: HEY TOM- QUICK QUSETION
    >Thanks Tom...wasn't shouting...had the caps on for something else and was too lazy to retype! LOL
    >I knew the rule, but needed it in writing because I have thickheaded friends, who are always trying to make me look bad.
    >One is mentoring newer players, so my response to her was: "If you are going to teach people how to play, at least get the rules right, so they learn the right way."
    >Thanks again.....Bettyann

    So you should tell your mentoring friend to read the back of the card and buy a copy of the official rulebook from the League, so she's sure of teaching the right way. And she should teach her students to read the back of the card and buy an official rulebook. (Or my book, of course.)
    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
    July 22, 2015


    22 flowers, part 2

    >From: Marie D
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 22, 2015 9:43 AM
    >Subject: RE: question on a card from 1957
    >Thank you!!
    >Marie D

    You're welcome!


    Is rolling dice an official rule?

    >From: betsy n
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2015 3:11 PM
    >Subject: HEY TOM- QUICK QUSETION
    >Is the rolling of the dice a national mah jongg rule? I can't seem to find it in writing anywhere.
    >My friend insists on rolling the dice before she builds her wall!
    >Thanks
    >Bettyann
    >I Love You Flowers 'The happiest of people don't necessarily
    > have the best of everything;
    > They just make the most of everything they have!
    >.•* *~`:Beyann.•* *~:

    You didn't need to shout, Bettyann. Quick answer: Yes, it's a rule. Read the back of the card! See page 9 of the official rulebook. And there's a good reason for the rule. Read FAQ 19-AP and column 403.
    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
    July 21, 2015


    22 flowers

    >From: Marie D
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2015 9:45 AM
    >Subject: question on a card from 1957
    >Hi Tom,
    >My group would like to play with a card from 1957 and are hoping you can answer a few questions:
    >The rules say values are based on 22 Flowers
    >In 1957 did the MJ sets have 22 flowers and did they play then with 158 tiles?
    >Were flowers also used like jokers, except where forbidden such as in Bouquet hands.
    >Thank you, love your website and columns!
    >Marie
    >Marie D

    Yes, and yes. Read FAQ 19-AI and column 509.
    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
    July 21, 2015


    I want to learn; can you teach me?

    >From: Anita T
    >Sent: Monday, July 20, 2015 10:26 AM
    >Subject: want to learn
    >Dear Tom, I would really like to learn how to play Mah Jong. Do you have an opening in your schedule for a beginner? I live in the Beverly Hills/West Hollywood area. Looking forward to your reply.
    >Anita T.

    Hi, Anita. I need a minimum of four students, and I do not have a list of waiting students.  If you don't have three friends who want to learn, see http://wcce.aju.edu/ - I'll be running a class there starting October 16. You can also look at my Find Players/Teachers board, and scroll through the posts there - and you can see other teachers in FAQ 4A - and you can read Frequently Asked Question 15. You can link to the FAQs and bulletin boards above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 20, 2015


    I need jokers!

    >From: Ray B
    >Sent: Sunday, July 19, 2015 3:08 PM
    >Subject: Tile purchase
    >Hi Tom
    >I am a new player and bought a new set in craigslist. Didn't realize it only had 144 tiles. No jokers. Where can I buy them? Thanks, Carolyn

    Welcome to my website, Carolyn.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 7-R. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 19, 2015


    Mah-jongg in Los Angeles question, part 2

    >From: MB H
    >Sent: Sunday, July 19, 2015 1:51 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-jongg in Los Angeles question
    >Hi Tom,
    >I appreciate your quick response, but am not comfortable posting my full name on a public board, so I ask you to please take off my last name.
    >Thank you
    >Melissa

    Hi, Melissa. I totally understand and I'm sorry. Normally, I never show a correspondent's last name. But there are exceptions to that rule -- when someone sends me a Find Players post is one of those exceptions (since those correspondents are specifically trying to be contacted). I'm editing your post.
    To get back to your first email: there are a lot of questions you might have meant to ask, based on your self-intro, and I could not be sure which one(s) you wanted answered. If you were looking for players or teachers, the Find Players board is where you can find them. I can teach Chinese Classical, but I need a minimum of 4 students, and I don't maintain running lists of students. If that's what you were going to ask. And I don't know of any other teachers in the L.A. area who teach Chinese Classical. (If that's what you were going to ask.) You might want to read FAQ 15. And, of course, scour the Find Players/Teachers board, and FAQ 4a.
    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
    July 19, 2015


    Where's the click, part 10 (racking, schmacking)

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Sunday, July 19, 2015 1:50 PM
    >Subject: racking, schmacking
    >Hi Tom,
    >You must be SO tired of reading all these opinions about when a tile is racked. Your recent diagram says it all. If the tile is properly racked, the racker's fingers can be totally removed from the tile and it will remain in its proper position on the rack Maybe that should be a rule--take your hand from the tile and it's definitely racked. Simple, no? Now I foresee people asking "what if the table gets bumped and the tile gets knocked off? What if there is an earthquake? What if someone has tremors and the tile slips off the rack? And so on ad nauseam. You have the patience of a saint! O:-)
    >Blessings for all you do--Linda

    Thanks, Linda. It would certainly help if the League would codify a clear rule on this silly fine point (or if they'd adopt the Chinese 3-second window).
    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
    July 19, 2015


    Mah-jongg in Los Angeles question

    From: MB H
    Sent: Sunday, July 19, 2015 12:46 PM
    Subject: Mah-jongg in Los Angeles question
    Dear Tom Sloper,
    I am in Los Angeles, westside, for a month for work, and I am interested in learning and playing Mah-jongg. I have wanted to learn Mah-jongg for some time, and I spent this past June at an artist residency with an experienced player. We played Classical Chinese several evenings, so I am very much a beginner.
    Thank you,
    Melissa H

    Hi, Melissa.
    I didn't see a question, so I posted this on the Find Players bulletin board. If you have a question for me, fire away!
    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
    July 19, 2015


    Where's the click, part 9 (when is it "racked")

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Saturday, July 18, 2015 2:55 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I think that there is a lot of room for disharmony with your definition of racked.
    >While A is definitely NOT racked, players may not be able to see the tile in partial as opposed to fully racked position as in B, C & D, but they will definitely hear that click for each of them when the tile touches the front of the rack regardless of the fact that it is firmly seated or not. Then the disharmony would come when the person racking it says that they firmly seated it and the one claiming the last discard says they hadn't racked it yet as it was not firmly seated yet. There is such a small difference thus causing disharmony.
    >I think most people would believe that if the tile is in B, C, or D position it is racked.
    >Bee

    I am sure that there are some people who would agree with you that if the tile is in positions B, C, or D, it is racked. I know that there are even some who would say it's racked at position A. The more important question is, are there some who would deny that the tile is racked in some of those positions?
    Yes, there are some who would deny that the tile is racked at position A. Me, for instance. Probably the League, too.
    There are some who would deny that the tile is racked at position B.
    There are some who would deny that the tile is racked at position C.
    But is there anyone who would deny that the tile is racked at position D? I don't think so.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 18, 2015


    Where's the click, part 8

    This is a follow-up to my July 15 response to Lynn P. ("Where's the click, part 7). You can see that I later became dissatisfied with my wording (and edited it). And for the last couple days I've been having continuing nagging dissatisfaction, with the image I posted then. So I have made a new one:

    In my opinion (and note: I do not make the rules), the only inarguable (therefore correct) answer is D. Consider that the only reason this even matters is that "racking" is one of the things that closes the window of opportunity on the live discard.
    A. If the next player in line places the tile atop the rack to close the window of opportunity, isn't she just trying to shorten the window? And isn't shortening the window inherently an aggressive move? "There, now you can't call the discard anymore. Nyaah!"
    B. This tile is on its way to being racked (it's not racked yet). The picker is in the act of sliding it into place; the window is not closed on the live discard, since the picker has not yet put the tile to rest on the rack.
    C. Ditto.
    D. Nobody could dispute that putting the tile here firmly shuts the window of opportunity on the fomerly live discard. At positions A, B, and C, there is room for disagreement. And isn't it desirable to remove room for disagreement?
    NOTE: I still say that it's unkind and aggressive to hurriedly try to shut the window of opportunity as quickly as possible, so the best practice is to pause a beat before reaching and picking from the wall. That gives other players a fair chance at calling the discard. If you like, look at the tile and see if you want it before racking - or discarding. There are other ways the window of opportunity can be closed. The purpose of picking is not to screw the other players; it's to add a tile to the hand. Maybe it's something you want, and maybe it isn't. If you know it isn't, you don't need to rack it; you can just discard it. So what if somebody calls for the live discard before you do?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 17, 2015


    "Change of heart" discrepancy

    >From: Pris B
    >Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2015 12:06 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My question is regarding changing your mind about taking a discard. In the FAQ, you have the following.
    > Q: 1. Can I change my mind about picking from the wall? 2. Can she change her mind about taking a discard? 3. Can I change my mind about discarding a tile? 4. Can he change his taking mind about redeeming a joker?
    >A:
    >A: 2. Calling a discard, either for an exposure or for mah-jongg. Once you have either placed the taken discard atop the rack or exposed tiles from your hand, you have committed to making the play (you may not backtrack - it's too late).
    >For further reading:
    >RDWW - p. 65 (rule 111), p. 100
    >Sources:
    >NMJL - 2007
    >The Mah-Jongg Q&A BB (March 2, 2015 - at time of this writing, the post has not yet gone into archive, but it will. If link doesn't work, alert me and I'll fix it.)
    >When I checked my copy of RDWW, p. 100, it states that"picking up a discarded tile is a rescindable act, even if she has put it on her rack, as long as nobody else has yet seen tiles from her hand."
    >Which is correct? Can a person change her mind if she has put on her rack?

    Hi, Pris.
    My book was accurate as to the rules in 2007, but from time to time I learn of things that need to be corrected. So I have created a collection of errata, and you can download it at the RDWW page. After I got the email, "Does your guide need some correcting, part 3 - Mistakes in American mah-jongg, part 2 - Frequently Asked Questions about American mah-jongg, part 2," From: Lynn McD on: Monday, March 2, 2015, I added that new information to FAQ 19-AM and to the errata. The letter Lynn got from the League says it clearly:

    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
    July 16, 2015


    Should a joker exchange be vocalized?

    >From: bklynirene
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 7:42 PM
    >Subject: Joker Exchange
    >Dear Tom:
    > When one player is exchanging a natural tile from her hand for a joker from another player's exposure, must that player announce "Exchange" (or any other words or phrases) -- or can she just make the joker exchange without saying anything?
    > Thank you for your always sage advice.
    >Irene

    Hi, Irene.
    It seems only logical to me that an exchange should, indeed, be vocalized. Consider:
    Imagine redeeming a joker from someone else's rack without saying anything. How would that proceed? Well, you could just put the joker on someone's rack, and take her joker. But scroll down and read "She says I have to keep my hands off her rack! Is that really a rule?" From: Libby Q  on Saturday, March 7, 2015. I wrote FAQ 19-CF based on the matter of touching someone else's rack. Or, perhaps you silently hold out the natural tile that matches another player's exposure, and she looks up and silently hands you the joker. All well and good? Not if another player is so absorbed in her own tiles that she doesn't know anything happened. Isn't it just polite to let all players know when something is going on?
    Or perhaps you silently redeem a joker from your own rack. Another player who's very absorbed in her own tiles may not notice until sometime after your turn has ended that you'd made the exchange. She might question whether some sort of chicanery had taken place. Isn't it just courteous to announce the exchange so all players know something is going on?
    Besides, since when does there exist a woman who doesn't want to talk about an exciting thing she's doing??
    The League has never, to the best of my knowledge, issued a rule about vocalizing an exchange. But I think this is a matter of courtesy, if not a rule.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 15, 2015


    Where's the click, part 7

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 11:39 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I follow your Q&A daily and just want to be clear in my mind that the Window of Opportunity is open until that picked tile is sitting firmly on the slanted rack. It is not being held over the rack or sitting on the top of the rack or hovering over the rack. Now first question: Does the player’s hand/fingers have to away from the tile? Some players put the tile on their rack or lean the tile against the rack but still hold onto it for a few seconds. I say that it is racked but the player who wanted the discarded tile said the player was still holding onto it so it is not racked. I would like to bring this up at a future game and set a “table rule” one way or the other as to holding onto a tile once it is on the slanted racked. Does holding onto the tile make it not racked? Question 2: Did you mention that a new rule is going to be on the 2016 card? If so what aspect of playing Mah Jongg is it concerned with? I had a new experience playing Mah Jongg last week. We had a sub who picked ahead. The first time she picked a tile from the wall and put it unseen (not turned over) in front of her rack. The player who had not yet discarded told her not to do this so she put tile back. We also told her it was against the NMJL rules and on the back of the card. She said that is how she plays in her weekly group. She also says she plays “fast” whatever that means. Would “picking ahead” make for a faster game? Thanks again and again for your excellent answers and strategy columns. Lynn

    Hi, Lynn. You wrote:

    I follow your Q&A daily
    I know you do, and I appreciate that!

    Does the player’s hand/fingers have to away from the tile?
    No. The tile was racked when it touched down. By which I mean position 2 in this diagram:

    I've mentioned before that one can hear a "click" when the tile reaches position 2. Not always does one hear a click. And sometimes a click could be heard when the tile attains position 1. But seriously, this is a lot of hairsplitting. Consider how quickly the racker racked, and how slowly the caller called.

    Some players put the tile on their rack or lean the tile against the rack but still hold onto it for a few seconds.
    That's annoying [EDIT: assuming you mean the tile is touching the top of the rack - not sure what you mean by "leaning against the rack"]. Clearly they think that counts as racking. What would a reasonable uninterested party (a non-player) think? The League has never specifically defined what "racking" means.

    I say that it is racked
    What's your reasoning?

    but the player who wanted the discarded tile said the player was still holding onto it so it is not racked.
    Of course! She wants the discard! I'll tell you what I do. When I pick a tile, I look at it without racking (unless I can tell instantly that it's a joker, for instance - feeling a sticker, for example). If I want to think about it and if I don't want someone else to call the live discard*, I could just rack it. I don't play semantic games - I like my moves to be unambiguous - so I put it firmly on the rack, at position 2 on the diagram above.
    * But if I need a moment to think, then why would I have a strong feeling that I don't want someone to stop my thought process? I'm indecisive at that moment, so it must not be a clear keeper tile, right?

    Does holding onto the tile make it not racked?
    No. If the tile is at position 2, whether or not fingers are in contact with it, it's racked. Any reasonable person who did not have a vested interest in the game would surely agree.

    Did you mention that a new rule is going to be on the 2016 card?
    No. How would I get information like that? Are you by chance referring to "The League confirms what you said about verbalizing the call," From: Alice S on Wednesday, July 1, 2015 (below)? Or maybe " Does your guide need some correcting, part 3 - Mistakes in American mah-jongg, part 2 - Frequently Asked Questions about American mah-jongg, part 2," From: Lynn McD on Monday, March 2, 2015?

    Would “picking ahead” make for a faster game?
    Players who pick ahead seem to think so (it seems to be their justification for doing it). But there's a reason why the League outlawed it - it causes complications and disharmony because it shortens the length of the window of opportunity.

    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
    July 15, 2015


    What if everybody wants to blind pass?

    >From: Matilda R
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 8:08 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >On the last right each player wanted to pass 1 tile.
    >How does this work?
    >mer
    >Missy R

    Hi, Missy.
    Player A passes 2 and says "I owe you one more."
    Player B says, "I trust you."
    Player A says "Thanks, I appreciate that."
    Player C says "What are you two talking about?"
    Player D says "Let's go, will ya?"
    Player B blind passes to player C, making a sour face at C and D.
    Player C blind passes to player D.
    Player D blind passes to player A.
    Player A blind passes the IOU tile to player B. "Here's that tile I owed you."
    Player B takes her 2 tiles and puts them in her hand, saying, "I knew my trust in you was not misplaced."
    Player C says, "What on earth are you two going on about?"
    Player D says, "You're all nuts!"
    That's how it works. At least, that's how it works in my mind.   ...I love my mind!
    If you go to Frequently Asked Question 19-BS, you'll find a link to Column 534. You can link to the FAQs and the columns above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 15, 2015


    7 Odd Honors

    >From: The Arkenstone
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 2:05 PM
    >Subject: MahJongg questions
    >Good Morning, Tom. I was directed to you from the mahjonggmadness.com gals. Gladys Grad tole me to write to you because my question didn't fall under the NMJL rules. I am not sure it falls under any rules, but I need validation. I learned Chinese MJ as a youngster, but hadn't played in years. The group I play with uses the Wright-Patterson rules, but there is nothing in there to answer my question either.
    >So that being said, here's my question....
    >
    > In playing a hand with 7 Odd Honors, the short sequence being Characters, the player called Mah Jongg after picking up a tile. When she showed her hand she had used a “1 Bamboo” and a “9 Circle” as part of her odd honors. Because we are all fairly new at MahJongg we could not agree on whether or not “1s and 9s” are (a) Honors as well as Terminals, and (b) can they be used in this manner? It’s worth 10 cents to two players and 20 cents from East …(we paid but she said if you gave a ruling against her, she would return the winnings.) We’re a very friendly group.
    >Thanks for all you do.
    >Debra B

    Hi, Debra.
    First, since I was not at home with my books when I first received your email yesterday, I checked FAQ 6, the mah-jongg Rosetta Stone. I checked the section "'Honors' (...how 'Honors' are defined by author)." And I saw that Wright-Patterson (WPAFB) defines the term as, "Winds & Dragons (sometimes Terms too)." Great. Not helpful. So, since I didn't have access to my books,, I was left to suss out the hand based on logic, deduction, and my expert understanding (read: "guessing"). The very name "7 Odd Honors" suggests that terminals are not included. There are exactly 7 different non-terminal honors: 4 winds, 3 dragons. Seems logical to assume that the intention is that the hand contain no more and no less than one of each - and that terminals are not part of that definition.

    I got home very late last night, so didn't check the bookshelf until this morning. Took a while, and I found some things in the official green rulebook.
    Page 18, Sequence Hands. Hand #16, Seven Up: "sequence of seven in one suit and seven odd honors."
    Page 2, definitions: Seven Odd. "One of each wind and dragon."
    Logic, deduction, and expert understanding win again! \(^_^)/
    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
    July 15, 2015


    Where's the click, part 6

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 10:46 AM
    >Subject: window of opportunity, part 6
    >Hi Tom,
    >Regarding my question of 7/6 about the window of opportunity-- I am still confused about some rules and in fact have spent 3 hours(!) researching your comments and answers to questions, especially "pickandrack". I read Columns 458, 639, and also your response to Michelle on 1/11/2005 about " pickandrack." In FAQ AD #2 you stated "racking means placing the tile on the sloping part of the rack."
    >The suggestion you gave about "the 3 second pause before picking a tile" is excellent and seems the courteous thing to do, especially with less skilled players who may be a little slower. I will advise my friends to start this habit, hoping for more harmony!
    >
    >The incident to which I referred (on 7/6) involved player A who held on to her drawn tile, still holding it for several seconds before physically placing it on her rack. Before she racked it ( thereby closing the window of opportunity) player B called for the previous discard. There was no "pickandrack" speed of play, but caller B is somewhat hearing-challenged and has slight dementia, so we usually cut her a break when minor problems arise. Player A refused to relinquish her tile and I think her actions were rude. I felt like arguing with A but instead I'll suggest we follow your "3 second rule." I enjoy winning but I also greatly value the friendship our MJ group offers and I try to be considerate to all. Thank you, MJ guru, for your great advice and for reading this lengthy "letter!
    >Linda

    Hi Linda,
    I didn't miss the thing you wrote on 7/11, how player B had not yet racked when player C called for player A's discard. You said, "Player B stated 'I've already racked it' then she proceeded to completely place the tile on her rack." I noticed that. (I did not find any post from you dated 7/6.) In your latest description of the event, you changed designations (now it was player A who had not yet racked when player B called, and player A said 'I've already racked' and then racked).
    But you never really asked me what I thought about that, or whether I agree with you that player A was rude to do what she did. (On the 11th, I got waylaid by the question you did ask; and there was no question in your email of the 14th.) So, here's what I think about that. To say "I've already racked it," and then to rack, is to knowingly state a blatant bald-faced lie! And yes, to do it rudely.
    Your player A didn't respect the official written rule, and surely will measure 3 seconds in a way so as to suit herself.
    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
    July 15, 2015


    What are the probabilities of [X=something/anything] happening in American mah-jongg?

    >From: Renée S
    >Sent: Monday, July 13, 2015 3:27 PM
    >Subject: Mah jongg question
    >Once play starts ( after the charleston ) what are the probabilities of picking a tile that a player needs for his/her hand. Just in a very, very general matter of figuring, as i know there are way too many varying factors to determine this exactly in less than 100 years. Lets assume that right after the charleston(s) the average number of tiles needed to mahj is five or six.
    >Thanks, Avril ....

    I'm sorry, Avril, but I have no idea. I am not a mathematician or a statistician. I have never studied probabilities or combinatorics, and I have no desire to do so. That information goes way beyond what I am able to offer here. And I doubt that any of my readers has done this sort of calculation, or she would have surely shared the information already. But I'm sure players all across this great land would love to have a lot of information about probabilities of various things mah-jongg related, and would appreciate it greatly if you would run the numbers for us. Note that you might have to repeat the calculations every year when a new card comes out. If you Google "books on probability and statistics," you will find several good ones.

    Happy reading!
    May the probabilities 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
    July 13, 2015


    Donation

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    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
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    I really appreciate that, Stella! Thank you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 12, 2015


    Where's the click, part 5

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Sunday, July 12, 2015 4:21 AM
    >Subject: where's the click? part 5
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for your clarification to my question "where's the click?" I think your suggestion of waiting 3 seconds before picking/racking is something I will suggest to my friends. Some are partly deaf, our room can be noisy, and some calls are missed because of background chatter and other distractions. The 3 second rule would also help those who have early beginnings of mild dementia and take a little longer to make a decision. Your goal of etiquette and harmony rocks!!
    >Thanks for great advice, Linda

    I'm glad it helps, Linda.
    Here I go being a typical male, always quick to jump to a "solution" when another person mentions a "problem." You say some of your players are hard of hearing and the room can be noisy. The solution for that situation is to keep one's eyes open. Too many players of American mah-jongg only listen to the proceedings, keeping eyes on one's own hand or on the card. I blame that bad habit on the American practice of vocally naming each discard - that's a thing I dislike about the American game (precisely because it leads to players only listening and not looking). A mah-jongg player has to be alert to everything going on at the table, with eyes open as well as ears. [/rant] [retroactive rant]
    Then we come to your mention of players with the onset of dementia. My heart goes out to those players, and I think that a 3-second rule does help and is fair.
    Note, though: a 3-second rule needn't slow down the game. Players don't sit and count 3 seconds after a tile is discarded. Nobody starts a 3-second timer each time. Play progresses normally, unless a player calls for a discard after the next in line has started her turn. Then players should consider (retroactively) whether the call had been within 3 seconds of the discard, and respond accordingly.
    Note further: a 3-second rule doesn't give players carte blanche to call "wait" and request a further thinking time-out after the next in line has started her turn. A call should always be decisive ("I want that" or "I'll take that," not "wait"), especially if the next in line has started her turn. Someone who takes 2.9 seconds to make a call and just says "wait" (and only then starts to think about whether or not she wants the tile) is pushing the privilege (and other players' patience) too far. [/rant] [retroactive rant]
    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
    July 12, 2015


    How do we find players or clubs?

    >From: "gloriajenm
    >Sent: Saturday, July 11, 2015 8:48 PM
    >Subject: We were referred to you by our Mah Jongg instructor in Beverly Hills.
    >Dear Tom,
    >My husband Lou and I have been playing Mah Jongg for the past six years. We just got done playing with our instructor and believe that we are comparable in play with her. We have read many of your articles on your web site and know that our game has improved as a result.
    >We are looking for players or clubs in Beverly Hills or West LA. Are there anyone that you can refer us to? We would really appreciate it!
    >Very sincerely, Gloria J and Lou M

    Hi, Gloria and Lou.
    I don't have a hidden list of clubs or players. Everything I have is here on my site. So I refer you to my Find Players bulletin board. You should scan through it (and then click the pointer at the bottom to scan through the archives), and you could also post your own announcement on it. Good luck!
    May the advanced players or clubs 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
    7/11, 2015


    Where's the click, part 4 (what if the call is simultaneous with the closure of the window of opportunity?)

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Saturday, July 11, 2015 1:48 PM
    >Subject: Fwd: "I had picked"part 2
    >-----Original Message-----
    >From: lindaz
    >Sent: Sat, Jul 11, 2015 10:10 am
    >Subject: "I had picked"part 2
    >Hi Tom,
    >Regarding Bonnie's question on 7/9--an incident occurred last week which left me puzzled. Player A discarded a tile. Player B (next in turn) then picked a tile from the wall and she started to rack it (as I recall she had not completely racked it--the tile was still in her fingers hovering over her rack and she had not placed the tile on her rack when player C called for A's discarded tile. Player B stated "I've already racked it" then she proceeded to completely place the tile on her rack. So my question is--when is a tile legally racked? Is just touching the top of the rack with the tile enough? Or must it be completely be on the rack? I searched FAQ AD 2 after I got home and found the answer, so next time I'll speak up! Could you please clarify this situation? Thanks,
    >Linda

    Hi, Linda.
    Your question is not similar to Bonnie's question. Bonnie was asking about whether a player could redeem a joker after her turn had ended. Your question is, rather, similar to Lynn P's question, "Where's the click?" on June 5-6. Essentially, your question (and Lynn's) is: "what if the call comes at the same time the next player is racking?"
    It's not a question of whether the tile had touched the sloping surface but had not yet come to rest.
    It's not a matter of tenths of an inch.
    FAQ 19-AD2 serves only to define what "racking" means (and what it does not mean) - it's not where you'll find the answer to your question, "what if the call comes at the same time the next player is racking?" Because if you're trying to measure in tenths of a second or tenths of an inch whether or not a tile is racked, you may as well just regard the call as being simultaneous with the racking.
    So then, as I said to Lynn on June 5 and June 6 below, you have to consider whether the picker picked and racked a little too quickly, or if the caller delayed just a hair too long. If a picker is pausing just a beat before picking, then she's allowed enough time for another player to call the live discard. Someone who doesn't speak until a reasonable-speed picker is in the act of racking has probably taken a hair too long deciding she wants the discard.
    And I think it's worth noting that in the official Chinese rules, the window of opportunity is open for 3 seconds. I think that is a generous and fair length of time. The NMJL has not codified a length of time for the window, but when there's a question about whether the rack or the call came first, it would not be unreasonable to apply the Chinese 3-second rule. In the official MCR, when the call is made within 3 seconds, the picker has to replace the tile on the wall, and the caller can have the discard. 
    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
    7/11, 2015


    I didn't rack, and she says that gives her a right to take my discard after the next player racked.

    >From: Veronica H
    >Sent: Saturday, July 11, 2015 9:49 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Playing the other day, I drew a South and immediately discarded it (without racking). The player to my right picked a tile and racked it. The person on her right said she had wanted my discard and she should be able to have it as I did not rack.
    >We have both taught MJ to others and she continues to say that it is a rule that you must rack. I disagree.
    >Early in the game, I rack my selection but when I am set for a MJ i usually do not.
    >Who is correct? I have your book Red Dragon and West Wind but I could not find a reference to racking.
    >Thank you for your time.
    >Roni H

    Hi, Roni. Let's take this step by step.
    You picked a tile and discarded it without racking.
    I presume you named it ("South").
    The player opposite you did not say anything.
    The player at your right picked and racked.
    The player opposite you suddenly says she wants your discard, and she says since you never racked it, she should have it, even though the next player has already picked and racked.

    She's clearly wrong. The time for her to claim the tile was during step 3 -- after you had discarded the tile, opening the window of opportunity on it, and before the player after you picked and racked, closing the window.

    How she thinks that your not racking your pick trumps the window of opportunity rule is beyond me!
    Let's imagine for a moment that, instead of your discard, the one she wanted was the discard before you.
    Player before you discards (let's say it's East).
    You pick a tile; the window of opportunity on the East is still open.
    If you rack the tile, the window of opportunity closes. But you don't, because it's a stinking South, and you don't need it, so you discard it.
    The window of opportunity closes. It's now too late for anyone to claim the East. The window of opportunity is now open on the South.
    Your opposite complains that she wanted that East, and says that since you never racked the South you picked, she should have the East. Now her complaint about your not racking makes more sense (slightly). But she'd still be too late, because you already discarded South.

    I hear fairly often from players who think that there is a requirement that a picker rack the picked tile. But there is no such requirement. And in the case of your friend's complaint, your not having racked the South has nothing to do with her claim for your South -- she didn't say anything until after the next player had already picked and racked. The window of opportunity on the previous discard (before yours) closed when you discarded. The window of opportunity on YOUR discard closed when the next player racked.

    In my book, read everything about the window of opportunity (easiest thing is to open the back cover and see all the pages where the window is discussed). And check out FAQ 19 (the FAQs are above left) and just search the page for the phrase "window of opportunity."

    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
    July 11, 2015


    Column 638, part 3

    >From: Joan
    >Sent: Friday, July 10, 2015 3:25 PM
    >Subject: Column 638
    >Oops! Sorry, Tom. It's my mistake. Need to get my eyes checked??
    >Sent from my iPad
    >JoaniE
    >life is good

    No problem, JoaniE.
    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
    July 10, 2015


    Column 638, part 2

    >From: joan e
    >Sent: Friday, July 10, 2015 9:17 AM
    >Subject: column # 638
    >Hi Tom,
    >Yes, you did miss something. Quint #3 is NNNNN DDDD 11111. You are showing GGGGG and 4 soaps. (Two dragons) No such hand :-(
    >JoaniE
    >Life is Good

    Oh, I see. You thought that was a green dragon. Look again: it's a One Bam. See, there's a bird on it (a peacock), and an Arabic numeral 1 in the upper left corner.

    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
    July 10, 2015


    Column 638

    >From: joan e
    >Sent: Friday, July 10, 2015 6:48 AM
    >Subject: Column #638
    >Hi Tom,
    >First off, I appreciate all your strategy columns. That being said, in column #638 # 10, there is no such hand on the 2015 card so she would have to be dead.
    >Thanks again for all your hard work.
    >JoaniE
    >Life is Good

    Hi, JoaniE,
    How do you figure that #10 isn't Quints #3? I mean, I do miss things sometimes, but I don't see where I'm wrong this time. Kong of a dragon, quint of a number...?
    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
    July 10, 2015


    I had picked, but she said it was still her turn

    >From: Bonnie
    >Sent: Thursday, July 9, 2015 5:16 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Thank you for your Q and A Board! I picked a tile, which turned out to be my mahj tile. It was in my hand, and as I was getting ready to rack, the player to my left realized that she could exchange a tile in her rack for a joker from the player’s exposed hand to her left. She said because I had not racked the tile, it was still her turn. I think I should have won as her turn was completed. I thought that the “racking” rule only applied to taking a thrown tile from the table. I graciously let her win, but feel I was duped………
    >Your thought ?

    You left out some very important information, Bonnie. You said her turn was "completed," but she said it was still her turn. The critical information here is whether or not she had discarded before you picked, and you didn't say.
    If she had not discarded, then you were wrong to pick from the wall. If she had discarded, then where does she get off thinking it was still her turn?
    If she did discard before you picked, then not only was it not her turn, but her hand had too few tiles after she redeemed the joker.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 9, 2015


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

    >From: Eileen L
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 6:43 PM
    >Subject: Question about misnaming
    >Hi Tom,
    >I read your article about misnaming….see below….my question is this:
    >Is a player misnames a tile and the discard is wanted for Mah Jongg, what kind of penalty is imposed?
    >Thanks, Eileen L
    >[Quoting Column 472] The ladies are having their weekly game, when all of a sudden an unexpected thing happens, and they don't know what to do about it. Player A discarded a tile and mistakenly said the wrong thing. She said, "Flower," but the tile she discarded was actually South wind. That wasn't the unexpected thing, however. People had misnamed discards before. But usually when that happened, the misnamer would simply say the correct name and the game would go on without a problem. But this time, Player B, without looking, said "Call." When Player B went to take the tile, she couldn't find a Flower. "Where is it?"
    >Player A looked and said, "Oh, sorry. It's a South." And that was the unexpected thing: somebody had called the misnamed tile, without realizing she wasn't getting what she thought she was getting. They had a discussion, and what they decided to do was this: they made Player A take back the South and discard a Flower. Player B made her exposure, and the game continued on. But is that what should have happened? No. Of course not.
    >Consider: there is such a thing as an official rulebook. All they had to do was have a copy! The rule is right there, on page 17. But most groups don't have a rulebook; many don't even know such a thing exists. Me, I was raised playing board games, and those always come with printed rules. So I don't know why so many people can think mah jongg doesn't have printed rules. But I'm just ranting again.
    >Consider: what if Player B didn't have a Flower, so couldn't discard the tile whose name she'd said? Should she be declared dead? Isn't that an overly harsh punishment for simply saying the wrong tile name? Are we to call people dead for every least error? "You sniffled: you're dead." I mean, come on!
    >Consider: Sometimes when a person says the wrong tile name, it's a matter of wishful thinking, rather than looking at the wrong tile. Sure, sometimes you might see a flower in your hand and accidentally say "Flower," but more often than not, you're thinking "Come on, Flower. Somebody discard Flower!" And that's why you say Flower instead of the name of the tile you're discarding. That happened in my weekly game just last week. An opponent misnamed his discard, and corrected himself. But somehow I knew, just knew, that it had been a Freudian slip—that he'd inadvertently said the name of the tile he needed for mah jongg. So I made sure not to discard the tile whose name he’d said.
    > The official rule is that there's a penalty to the misnamer only if the discard is wanted for mah jongg. If nobody wants it, then no harm done. No harm, no foul. If it's wanted for mere exposure, then the caller (the one who wants it) is also partially at fault—she should have been looking! Shared fault, shared foul. But if somebody wants it for mah jongg, that's grounds for punishment because all are affected. [/quote]

    Hi, Eileen. Your question is:

    [If] a player misnames a tile and the discard is wanted for Mah Jongg, what kind of penalty is imposed?
    There is such a thing as an official rulebook. The rule is right there, on pages 17-18. And you can also find the answer in Frequently Asked Question 19-AY. (You can link to the FAQs above left.) By the way, you didn't really have to quote the entire column. You could have just said "column 472, last paragraph" or something (or you could have just quoted the first sentence of the last paragraph). I guess I could link that sentence to the FAQ... Okay, there, I did it. Now that sentence links the reader directly to the rule.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 8, 2015


    I don't know how to change my teacher listing

    >From: Merrily Lewis <merrily321@gmail.com>
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 6:08 PM
    >Subject: Instructor change of address
    >Hi Tom,
    >I am listed on your instructor page and would like to continue to do so, but I have recently moved from Manchester, Vt. to Camarillo, Ca. I do not know how to change my listing. Please help.
    >PS. Your website is amazing and in my classes, I always gave the students your site as a great reference . Even more experienced players I know were unaware of it. They only knew the National Mah Jongg League…I set them all straight.
    >Thanks,
    >Merrily Lewis

    You just changed it, Merrily. All you had to do was tell me.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 8, 2015


    Advice I can share, parts 3, 4, & 5

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 5:14 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Re Q&A Advice I can give to my Mom: As an older Mah Jongg female player I whole hardily agree with your response to Chris(opher). We ladies like to complain especially when we have to show our exposures so that other players know what hand we are playing. Mother’s only recourse is not calling the discard and hoping she gets a joker. Then she won’t have to expose some of her hand. Christopher can tell his mother, “ You should realize you will win some and you will lose some.” He should also go to an online book store and buy her your book, “The Red Dragon & The West Wind” which will help her understand Mah Jongg strategy. As for the name “Chris”, my daughter is Chris (Christine), my daughter-in-law is “Christine”:. My niece married “Chris” (Christopher) and they have a son “Chris” (Christopher, Jr.) and my nephew married someone named “Chris/Kris” (Kristen). So if you sign your letter “Chris” who are you?? Tom, all of us Mah Jongg players appreciate all your hard work of answering our questions in a special section and writing the weekly “Strategy column”. Also your book, “RD & WW” is my Mah Jongg Bible. I “won’t leave home without it”!!! Many many thanks for all you do for us Mah Jongg players. Lynn P.

    >From: Belinda - F
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 11:34 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Tom, I love your sense of humor. Something a new reader or a non-player may not understand. I was laughing the whole time I was reading your answer to Christopher. Your answer was actually spot on. We Mah jongg players love to kvetch, something a non-player would not readily understand. But we love to win too!
    >The game is part luck, part skill. Tonight our games were almost all wall games and each of us were one or two away from Mahj, no one would give up something another player needed. Of course I had a hand or two that had only six tiles for mahj after the charleston and never got one more tile! Love this game!
    >Please keep up the good work, we all appreciate you!
    >Bee

    >From: Beth P
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 7:11 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A " Advice I can share"
    >Tom Sloper: Just saying, your respose to Chris, who wanted to “fix his mothers problem” was absolutely right. In fact, you did answer his questions. He doesn’t have a clue about MJ (a foreign language to him) to understand the answers. Frustrating as it is,seems to me she is doing OK since she only has one tile away. The tiles will be coming her way on another day. Now if she was often 8 tiles away then she would need to brush up on her strategy. Love your column. Beth

    Thank you, ladies!
    I regretted that Chris' question was one that couldn't be answered in a way that he would have appreciated, no matter what I told him. But ya can't always please everyone. Thanks 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
    July 8, 2015


    Column 638

    >From: Pamela W
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 2:41 PM
    >Subject: Column 638 #9
    >Question:
    >As I read it, I would have called the individual dead. 3 consecutive numbers to me would be 7,8, 9 with a quints of 7s and matching pair of 7s as in 7789. I would never have thought 9978 to be consecutive. ???
    >Pam
    >Sent from my iPad

    Hi Pam,
    Take another look. My answer concludes, "See FAQ 16 if you don't understand." I didn't make that a clickable link, and since you were on your iPad, going to FAQ 16 would have necessitated your doing a bit of navigation. I'll go back and make that a clickable link (like this).
    On the NationalMahJonggLeague website's FAQs page, the League says: " You may pair Any number in the run in any position. The pair and quints must match. (Any 3 suits – Any 3 Consec. Nos.)" - So in this case it's not 7789, and it's not 9987. It's 7899, and that's a perfectly legal way to make the hand. Please read FAQ 16. There's also a link there to the League's FAQs.
    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
    July 8, 2015


    Advice I can share, part 2

    >From: Christopher U
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 12:45 AM
    >Subject: Thanks for nothing
    >Your response to my question was not only unhelpful, it was offensive. I asked you for advice about mah jongg strategy, not for a patronizing lecture from a stranger about how to talk to my own mother or a bunch of simplistic gender stereotypes. (Yes, I've read You Just Don't Understand, too.)
    >And if the only thing struggling mah jongg players want is "commiseration, not fixes," then isn't writing a mah jongg strategy column a huge waste of time? Writing to you certainly was.

    Sorry you feel that way, Chris.


    Advice I can share with my mom

    >From: Christopher U
    >Sent: Monday, July 6, 2015 3:47 PM
    >Subject: Question re. mah jongg
    >I'd like to ask you a question on behalf of my mom, who plays mah jongg regularly. Every week she comes home and says that she lost because she was just one tile away from making mah jongg and she couldn't get the one she needed.
    >I said to her, "This happens every week. You must have a 'tell,' like a poker player. They must know when you need only one more."
    >She said of course they know, because you have to expose the hand you're making, so it's obvious what she needs.
    >I asked her, "What do the other players do? Aren't they in the same boat?"
    >She said, "No, because there are some hands you can make where you don't expose what you need."
    >"So make one of those hands instead!" I said. She got exasperated and pointed out that I know nothing about mah jongg, which is true.
    >What can she do? Is there a way she can conceal what she's trying to do from the other players? Are there certain hands she should be concentrating on? Maybe some hands that could lead to more than one outcome? Any help would be appreciated.
    >Thanks,
    >Chris U

    Hi, Chris. When I was reading your email, Chris, I found myself thinking, "this is what a male does - trying to come up with a fix, a solution, whenever a woman when she complains about something. What's going on here...?" Then I realized you are a Christopher, not a Christine! (Can't always tell what gender a "Chris" is.) Anyway, you wrote:

    I said to her, "This happens every week. You must have a 'tell,'
    Not necessarily. What you need to understand is that complaining is an important part of the fun for mah-jongg players. It's called "kvetching," and when a woman kvetches, she's only looking for sympathy, not fixing.

    They must know when you need only one more."
    >She said of course they know, because you have to expose the hand you're making, so it's obvious what she needs.
    Here's the thing. It often happens that a player exposes enough parts of her hand that her opponents can tell what she's doing, and what tiles she might need. Take a look, for instance, at the strategy column I posted just yesterday. Your mom probably knows all that strategy stuff already - it's just hard for her to explain it to a mah-jongg outsider.

    I asked her, "What do the other players do? Aren't they in the same boat?"
    Yes, they are. A strategic player tries not to expose and give away information, but it's hard to win without exposing. And some players who aren't playing at an advanced level yet may not have learned to read another player's exposures. That's why I write strategy columns like the one I posted yesterday (to help those players improve). You can get to my strategy columns by clicking the purple banner atop this page.

    She said, "No, because there are some hands you can make where you don't expose what you need."
    >"So make one of those hands instead!" I said. She got exasperated
    Of course she did. Those Concealed hands are much much harder to make. You can't keep trying to give her mah-jongg strategy advice, unless you learn to play the game yourself. Let her kvetch, and then give her the commiseration she desires. The correct response to give when she says, "I was just one tile away from making mah jongg and nobody would give me the tile I needed," is, "Aww, there, there. Poor Mommy." Or, "Those bitches!" Get the idea? She wants commiseration. Not fixes.

    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
    July 6, 2015


    Column 638

    >From: Belinda - Frontier
    >Sent: Sunday, July 5, 2015 9:57 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >July 5th column #1, There would have to be more than two flowers dead on the table to call her dead. Must have been a typo?
    >Bee

    >From: Libby S
    >Sent: Monday, July 6, 2015 9:56 AM
    >Subject: Edits to Column #638
    >Mr. Sloper, I appreciate how you like being accurate in your blog, so I thought I’d point out a few things that should be edited in your Column #638:
    >1. “G and F are hot. Odds #3. F is key; what I mean by that is, if you see more than two of them dead on the table, you can call her dead.” It should read “…more than six of them…” (since there are 8 flowers, as you later noted).
    >11. “Three possible hands: 2014 #1, W-D #2, and W-D #3. Figure it out.”
    >It should read “2015 #1…”
    >Thanks,
    >Libby

    Very good, Bee and Libby.
    The flub in #1 is a sloppy cut-and-paste (moved to #1 from a later one). Will fix both, 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
    July 6, 2015


    Please settle this argument, part 2

    >From: Jack E
    >Cc: "Alder1371
    >Sent: Saturday, July 4, 2015 4:42 PM
    >Subject: details (do latecomers have an advantage?)
    >Tom,
    >Ok, here's some more information.
    >One of us (Lily) thinks that the latecomer has an unfair advantage because he/she could easily have a run of high-scoring hands and end up ahead of everyone else. (In fact, this just recently happened to us,.) Keeping in mind that scores tend to average out over the long term (especially when the competition is well balanced as it usually is in our group), big hands over a short period of time could have a big effect. In addition, if there WERE a weaker player in the group (and sometimes there is) and that weaker player gets matched up with the latecomer for several hands near the end, it would then make it easier for the latecomer to win those big hands. (The argument that a latecomer might have a run of low-scoring hands or get matched up with a very strong player near the end doesn't matter, because losers don't get prizes.) Anyway, I concede: my wife has some good arguments.
    >
    >However, here's the way I see it. After a considerable period of time has elapsed, say 3 hours, some players will have a considerable lead over the others and the latecomer will not only have to become a winner but will also have to make up for the gains the current leaders have. Also, if you look at the extreme case where the latecomer is so late that he/she has time to play only one hand, the odds are extremely small (close to 0) that the newcomer will win one of the prizes. (By the way, we usually have 2 or more prizes, based on how many tables we have.) In this situation, the latecomer is clearly disadvantaged. All things taken into consideration, I think it doesn't matter much. However, it would be nice to get some precise information on probabilities here. Both my wife and I have backgrounds in mathematics but are not experts in statistics and probability. Besides, as readers of Ask Marilyn all know, subtleties in situations such as these can arise and fool even the best experts.
    >
    >As for your questions about how to deal with advantages/disadvantages, this would, of course, be written in the divorce decree.
    >Thanks again, Jack & Lily E.

    Hi, Jack. You wrote:

    the latecomer has an unfair advantage because he/she could easily have a run of high-scoring hands
    I fail to see any causality between late arrival and an "easy" run of high-scoring hands. It could just as easily be that the latecomer falls into a losing streak.

    [if] that weaker player gets matched up with the latecomer for several hands near the end, it would then make it easier for the latecomer to win those big hands.
    That's a big if. It could easily go a different way (if the latecomer is a weaker player than a stronger player at the table, it could go badly for the latecomer). But you seem to be trying not to say that your latecomer is a strong player.

    ... losers don't get prizes.)
    Prizes? You have prizes? I don't remember you mentioning that before. This is very simple, if you have prizes. In order to be eligible to win a prize, a player must be present for the entire match (arriving on time and staying to the end). Latecomers should (of course) not be eligible to win a prize.

    [we] have backgrounds in mathematics but are not experts in statistics and probability.
    Me, neither. I do not have a background in math. I'm a game designer, and I would never permit someone to win a prize if he or she was not present for the entire match. It's not fair to the other contestants. Want to have a chance at winning a prize? Come on time and stay the whole time. Very simple.

    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
    5th of July, 2015


    She switched, part 2

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Saturday, July 4, 2015 7:00 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Re July 3 gysmith’s question: Don’t you think that most players would recognize that the player who called Mah Jongg had simply switched the joker and soap “on accident” (As my 2nd and 3rd graders would say)? This has happened in our group a few times and no other player has called the Mah Jongger “dead”. If the player didn’t realize this right away, another player would ask if she meant that the joker and soap should be switched. Since I read another answer you wrote about the player who declares Mah Jongg should say how much is owed by each player, I have carefully looked at my winning hand and last Friday I almost neglected saying I had a self picked jokerless hand so that everyone owed me $1!! Big winnings for a purse of $3!! Funny I almost didn’t read your column/Q&A tonight since I thought that you wouldn’t be writing being it is July 4. So glad you did and saw your TY for donation. You are more than welcome. Hope you had a Happy 4th or are still celebrating in CA. Thankfully it is almost July 5 in FL. so these few “neighbors” will stop shooting off their firecrackers!! No sight, just sound!! Lynn

    Hi, Lynn. You wrote:

    Don’t you think that most players would recognize that the player who called Mah Jongg had simply switched the joker and soap “on accident” (As my 2nd and 3rd graders would say)?
    Of course. But a mistake is still a mistake. And it seems a classic case of someone pre-assigning a joker (or otherwise using a joker to fill out a hand, in a way that causes her to forget that it's got many uses).

    If the player didn’t realize this right away, another player would ask if she meant that the joker and soap should be switched.
    Yes; most would do that in a friendly home game. In a tournament, though, or in a high-stakes game, stricter rules apply.

    last Friday I almost neglected saying I had a self picked...
    I recommend that whenever one picks her winning tile, she should not say "maj," but instead say "I picked it."

    ...jokerless hand
    It's easy to miss that. Walking through the exposures is a good habit (not only for those opponents who are newer players but also for those with sight limitations), and might help in noticing oneself that the hand is jokerless. Another good habit: knowing in advance, "I can win on X or a joker, and if I get X, I'm jokerless!"

    It's an official rule that if a player undervalues her hand, the other players only have to pay what she said (not what the hand is actually worth). But as you say, in a friendly home game, some players will help the winner in valuing the hand. I have played with a player who says "you only get what you ask for," and with a player who firmly believes in the friendlier style (not both players in the same game).

    Funny I almost didn’t read your column/Q&A tonight since I thought that you wouldn’t be
    I always respond to Q&A, every day. It's the columns that sometimes get the short shrift, due to my workload. Q&As make for a good daily mental break, whereas a column requires more time.

    Hope you had a Happy 4th
    I had a very enjoyable time with friends, thanks. Hope you had a nice 4th too.

    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
    July 5, 2015


    Do I have to have a natural tile?

    >From: Kay
    >Sent: Saturday, July 4, 2015 10:34 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Is it allowed to make a pung.kong etc by picking up tile needed & adding to required number to make pung with joker/s you have in your hand? For instance need 3 cracks for my hand. I have no 3 cracks in my hand, someone plays a 3 crack & I pick it up & add my 2 jokers to make the pung. Can I do that? Thx for your help!! Kay W.

    Oh, Kay, can you see? ...Sorry, bad Fourth of July joke.
    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-L. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (or my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    4th of July, 2015


    She switched after her maj was challenged

    >From: "gysmith
    >Sent: Friday, July 3, 2015 2:41 PM
    >Subject: Mah jongg
    >Is this allowed?? A player declares mah jongg laying down flower, flower, kong of green dragons, 2j15 in craks, and a kong of soaps using 1 joker in the kong. She is challenged that she cannot use joker in 2015, so she says "oh" and switches her joker and a soap for a correct mah jongg. Courtesy says she can, but is there a rule which says she cannot switch once declared? Thanks

    Hi, gysmith. I think that it depends on the timing of the challenge. A declarer is supposed to announce which hand it is, show the hand part by part, and then announce the amounts owed by each player. If she does all that and doesn't notice her own error and then a challenger says, "that's wrong. You're dead," then the declarer is dead.
    If, however, the declarer reveals her tiles and before she can say anything is called dead by a challenger, then the declarer hasn't had a chance to complete her play, so should be able to correct it.

    What I said above is only my unofficial thought, not an official ruling. I based my thinking on the NMJL rule that a player is permitted to correct an exposure before discarding. In a maj situation, there'll be no discard, but the maj is completed when the player has walked the other players through the hand and announced the win amount. Note, however, that many experienced players don't need a walkthrough - but announcing the win amount is always necessary (it's the winner's duty to say how much she's owed). If she announces the win amount before she notices the error, she's dead. In my opinion.

    It always amazes me how players find more and more ways to find situations not explicitly spelled out in the rules! (But then, the rules are rather loosely written.)

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 3, 2015

    P.S. Then again, what about an opponent who's so fast that she calls the declarer dead before the declarer can even open her mouth to say anything after exposing her tiles - in that case, I think the challenger is jumping the gun. - Tom


    Old mahjong set, part 5

    >From: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >Cc: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >Sent: Friday, July 3, 2015 8:16 AM
    >Subject: Old Mah Jong set. Donna Williams
    >One more question, please. Is there any way to tell who made this set? Thanks, Donna

    There might be, Donna. Or should I say, there might be a way to determine what company imported the set or commissioned the making of the set. That type of set was made by home artisans in China (with no way of tracing them). As for the importer, you can look for markings on the bottom of the case, the inside of the case, the bottom of the drawers, etc. Also, the booklet might contain clues.
    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
    July 3, 2015

    P.S. I hope you appreciate the information Ray Heaton gave (below) about the Chinese writing on your box and on your flower tiles. And you should read column 610.


    Donations

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    Thank you, Lynn, and thank you, Anita!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 3, 2015


    Old mahjong set, part 4

    Donna, I forgot to mention another proof that the set is from the twenties: the booklet says "Mah Jong."

    That name was not created until 1920, by Joseph Park Babcock, who also initiated the practice of putting indices on the tiles. See FAQ 11H.

    By the way, I noticed that the first paragraph promulgates a common falsehood about the origins of the game. It says: "Le jeu de Mah Jong, vieux d'environ 30 siècles, a été créé pour distraire un empereur chinois, tout comme le jeu de cartes a été invente pour distraire un roi français."
    Translate.google.com translates that as: "The game of Mah Jong, about 30 centuries old, was created to entertain a Chinese emperor, as the card game was invented to entertain a French king." See FAQ 11H - mah-jongg (maque) originated in the 1860s or 1870s. Not millennia ago.
    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
    July 2, 2015


    She picks ahead, part 3

    >From: Eileen J
    >Sent: Thursday, July 2, 2015 3:21 PM
    >Subject: She picks ahead
    >Dear Tom,
    >She picks ahead, final chapter.
    >The Silver Lake MJ Group in The Villages, Fl has determined that I am a stickler for the rules. They think I take things too far calling the NMJL and don't want to see or hear what you have to say. I take their labeling as a compliment and believe that rules need to be followed by all players especially advanced groups playing for money. All table disputes should be handled amicably and in accordance with NMJL rules. Having a copy of these rules should not be threatening to a knowledgeable player.
    >Thanks for your support in this matter.
    >Eileen J

    Hi, Eileen.
    Those folks don't need to listen to me; I'm not the person who makes the rules. I just help my readers understand the rules. But if your group doesn't want to hear what even the NMJL says, then they just aren't interested in what the official rules are - they're happy with their own rules. If you want to play with them, you need to adapt to their rules (as I wrote in FAQ 14). I wish you harmonious play, and a pleasant Fourth of July weekend.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 2, 2015


    Old mahjong set, part 3

    >From: "heaton.ray
    >Sent: Thursday, July 2, 2015 5:36 AM
    >Subject: Donna's "Old Mahjong Set"
    >Hi Tom,
    >Donna's view (from the 1st July) that some of her flower tiles showed fireworks is unfortunately erroneous. The flower tiles have the following...
    >The tiles with red Chinese characters show the seasons:
    >Tile #1, 春, Chun, Spring
    >Tile #2, 夏, Xia, Summer
    >Tile #3, 秋, Qiu, Autumn
    >Tile #4 冬, Dong, Winter
    >The tiles include illustrations of flowers appropriate to each season.
    >And the tiles with the green Chinese characters show the four arts of the scholar:
    >Tile #1, 琴, Qin, (also called the Guqin) a musical instrument rather like a Zither or Lute.
    >Tile #2, 棋, Qi, the strategy game of Go or Chinese Chess; this will be either 圍棋 Weiqi the game of Go or 象棋, Xiangqí, Chinese Chess.
    >Tile #3, 書, Shu, means to write but is used to refer to Chinese calligraphy
    >Tile #4, 畫, Hua, Chinese painting.
    >These tiles have illustrations relevant to each of the four arts.
    >I think the box has, reading right to left, the two characters 祥雲, xiangyun, which translates as "auspicious clouds"; this odd phrase becomes clearer if you know that the Chinese word for cloud is pronounced the same as the word for "luck", and hence is a way of wishing someone good luck or great fortune!
    >Regards
    >Ray

    Very nice, Ray!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    July 2, 2015


    Old mahjong set, part 2

    >From: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >Cc: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >Sent: Thursday, July 2, 2015 2:15 AM
    >Subject: Old mahjong set. Donna W
    >Could it have been made before 1920 for expats living in Indochina, near Hanoi, and brought to France by hand .... Before these sets were exported?

    No, Donna. It looks for all the world just like a standard 1920s set. It has western (English) indices and a printed set of rules. Roaring twenties, sure as shootin'. Is that all you wanted to know (the age of the set)?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 2, 2015


    The League confirms what you said about verbalizing the call

    >From: Alice S
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 9:36 PM
    >Subject: Verbalizing a call
    >Hi, Tom,
    >Love your website! Thank you for keeping the mah jongg community informed.
    >Remember your previous Q&A entries about verbalizing a call (May 6, 2015; April 11, 2015 and January 6, 2015)?
    >After observing similar problems myself, I wrote to the NMJL. Great news! The NMJL has issued a ruling.
    >Not surprisingly, the NMJL ruling concurs with your advice (from January 6) that “the intent is clear: one is supposed to verbally call”.
    >Nice work by the NMJL. Nice work by Tomster.
    >The NMJL’s response (excerpted from a letter dated June 25, 2015) is:
    >“We are including in our ruling that a player must vocalize the claim for a discard before exposing their tiles. This ruling will be added on the back of the 2016 card and will be inserted in our next order for our instruction books. The player may say ‘take’, ‘call’, ‘I want it’ or whatever indicates that they are calling the discard. Lastly, it should go without saying that all players should always watch the table as well as listen.”
    >Wishing you and your readers a Happy Fourth!
    >Alice S.

    Alice, I found those conversations you mentioned.
    "Is it a rule? Do you have to say "call" when you call? (part 3),"  From: "judi @ mahjonggfunla . com, Sent: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 and "Do you have to say "call" when you call?," From: "row019, Sent: Saturday, April 11, 2015, are still below. The January 6 question, "Is it a rule? (speaking calls aloud)," From: Emily Z, Sent: Tuesday, January 6, 2015, fell off the bottom of this board and can still be seen at http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive33.htm
    Thanks very much for sharing the ruling you got in writing from the official rules organization!
    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
    July 1, 2015


    Donation

    >From: Alice S via PayPal
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 9:24 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Alice S (ali1)
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$25.00 USD from Alice S (ali1). You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
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    >Sincerely,
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    Thank you very much, Alice!
    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
    July 1, 2015


    Old mahjong set

    >From: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >To: "tomster@sloperama" <tomster@sloperama>
    >Cc: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 5:50 AM
    >Subject: Old mahjong set
    >My friend, Ninon S, has a mahjong set that she would like to know more about. I am including a written description, provenance, and in separate emails, the pictures. Can you help us or point us to a site that can help us?
    >COUNTERS- 35 pieces of 1 point
    > 36 pieces of 2 points
    > 8 pieces of 5 points
    > 35 pieces of 10 points
    > Plus a broken 10 point,
    > a broken 1point
    >and several with the dots worn off.
    >TILES - The tiles are bone and bamboo, 2.1 cm x 3 cm x 1 cm thick; ratio of about 3/4 bamboo to 1/4 bone.
    >FLOWERS - 4 flowers with red numbers
    > 4 "flowers" with green numbers
    > depicting fireworks
    >WINDS - 16 total winds ( 4 N, 4 S, 4 E, 4 W)
    >DRAGONS - 4 red, 4 green, 4 white (blank)
    >SUITS -
    >Characters; all tiles present
    > They have the older, simple Character sign
    >Dots; all tiles present
    > The one dot has a five point red star in the middle, green spokes, and a blue outer ring
    >Bamboos; all tiles present
    > The one Bam bird has a blue body, green
    > wings, black parallel lines for the tail,
    > and red feet. He is left facing.
    >8 Bam has the number in the middle of the tile
    >EXTRA TILES - there are 4 extra blank tiles
    > ( in addition to the 4 White Dragons )
    >WIND INDICATORS - a small tubular black container with a Chinese symbol on the top of the lid, holds 4 indicators ( varying thicknesses )
    >BOX - The box measures 16 1/4 cm wide, 20 1/4 cm long, 13 cm high, by 16 1/4 cm deep. It has brass corners and 2 brass handles. The face plate pulls up (and away) two reveal two drawers; the top one shallow with 4 trays, and the bottom one deep with no divisions.
    >The front plate ( that covers the drawers ) has two large Chinese symbols on it and a decorative brass plate at the top. The pulls look like circles but the right half flips out to make the drawer pulls. The wood is a dark, reddish color, maybe mahogany, with a lighter wood drawer construction.
    >PROVENANCE- " My name is Ninon S. This set came to me from my mother, Edith Genoyer. I understand that it was given to her by her cousin, Marc Genoyer, on his return from Indochina in 1913. He was in the French navy, and was killed in the Dardanelles battle in 1915."
    >There are a few paper pieces from "Rules of the Game" in French in the box, probably sold separately for French speakers:
    >page 3 & 4 = Historical .....
    >page 13 & 14 = pieces & description
    >page 15 & 16 = table de marque
    >My name is Donna W and my email is spoon_lady@... I will be sending the pictures that accompany this description from that address and identify them with my name.
    >Thank you so very much, Donna

    >From: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >To: tomster@sloperama
    >Cc: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 6:02 AM
    >Subject: Old mahjong set Donna W


    >From: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >To: tomster@sloperama
    >Cc: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 6:03 AM
    >Subject: Old mahjong set. Donna W


    >From: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >To: tomster@sloperama
    >Cc: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 6:04 AM
    >Subject: Old mahjong set. Donna W


    >From: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >To: tomster@sloperama
    >Cc: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 6:05 AM
    >Subject: Old mahjong set. Donna W


    >From: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >To: tomster@sloperama
    >Cc: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 6:06 AM
    >Subject: Old mahjong set. Donna W


    >From: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >To: tomster@sloperama
    >Cc: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 6:06 AM
    >Subject: Old mahjong set. Donna W


    >From: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >To: tomster@sloperama
    >Cc: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 6:07 AM
    >Subject: Old mahjong set. Donna W


    >From: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >To: tomster@sloperama
    >Cc: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 6:07 AM
    >Subject: Old mahjong set. Donna W


    >From: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >To: tomster@sloperama
    >Cc: Donna W <spoon_lady
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 6:08 AM
    >Subject: Old mahjong set. Donna W

    Hello, Donna. You wrote:

    I am including a written description, provenance, and in separate emails, the pictures.
    Yes, so I see!

    Can you help us or point us to a site that can help us?
    I can help you. What do you want to know? You didn't ask a question.

    I understand that it was given to her by her cousin, Marc Genoyer, on his return from Indochina in 1913.
    No, that didn't happen. This set didn't exist until at least 7 years later. Standing by for a question...

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 1, 2015


    Please settle this argument about latecomers

    >From: Jack E
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2015 12:53 PM
    >Subject: please settle this argument
    >Hi Tom,
    >Once again my wife and I need you to settle an argument for us!
    >A little background is in order. We play the tournament version of mah jong (the "Official Chinese" version) and play for small prizes. Normal playing time is from noon until 6 pm and we allow people to start late or quit early. Usually this is inconsequential but sometimes a player will show up about halfway through the session or even later. The question (argument) is this: Does the late starter have an advantage or disadvantage over the other players? Assume that the late starter doesn't modify his/her playing style based on the performance of the others to that point. Also assume that everyone starts with the same number of bones. Thanks.
    >Jack & Lily E

    Hi, Jack. I don't have enough information about the argument.
    One of you (it doesn't matter to me which) believes that the latecomer has an advantage. How so? And what proposal is on the table to deal with the advantage?
    The other one believes that the latecomer is at a disadvantage. In what way? And what proposal is on the table to deal with the disadvantage?
    Clearly, the latecomer stands to win or lose much less than the others. But so what? Maybe that person has a busier life than the rest. I'm unclear on what the problem is.
    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
    June 30, 2015


    East receiving extra

    >From: "Jerry D R
    >Sent: Monday, June 29, 2015 10:35 AM
    >Subject: East receiving extra pay for mahing
    >Hi Tom,
    >I was playing the other day and someone thought that East will be paid double just for Mahing. Have you ever heard of this?
    >Thanks,
    >Sue

    Sure I have, Sue. This person who said that probably plays some other mah-jongg variant (not 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
    June 29, 2015


    Is this considered poor Mah Jongg etiquette?

    >From: June S
    >Sent: Monday, June 29, 2015 7:28 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Some of the ladies in my Mah Jongg groups like to point out that they know what someone is going for when part of a hand is disclosed on the rack. Is this considered poor Mah Jongg etiquette? I say not everyone may know what they know and it is an individual game not a “team sport.” Am I just being too sensitive?

    Hi, June.
    Yes, I consider it poor Mah Jongg sportsmanship to draw other players' attention to one player's exposures. You're not being too sensitive. Your ladies "like to point out that they know what someone is going for," you said. Well, check out the post "I think this is an etiquette question," From: Susan B and Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 (below). The unsportsmanlike conduct she reported was a lady who "tells everyone which hands that person is going for."
    Your ladies are just know-it-all showoffs, but Susan B's lady is a downright blabbermouth stool pigeon fink!
    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
    June 29, 2015


    Hoping you are too busy having fun

    >From: Shelly
    >Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2015 9:26 PM
    >Subject: Just a note of thanks
    >Have been following your web site for years and notice you are not as active as you have been.
    >Hoping you are to busy having fun.
    >If not just know, I'm sending my good wishes that all is well with you and those you love.
    >Fondly,
    >Shelly B
    >P.S. As we used to say, "Peace" and now " May The Jokers Be With You Always"

    Hi, Shelly.
    I'm just as active as always here on the bulletin board. I have been sloughing off on the strategy columns, though, because I'm happily overworked ("happily" because it means extra money). And I noticed that I get more email when I don't write a column than when I do, so you could think of it as a sly way of getting more emails to post here on the 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
    June 29, 2015


    Quints #2

    >From: Gail E L
    >Sent: Thursday, June 25, 2015 9:39 PM
    >Subject: Quints hand
    >Just to clarify.
    >The 2nd hand
    >The pairs are in the first position
    >Can the pairs be in the second or third position in a run?
    >I answer questions all day but this one, they didn't believe me, so I said I would ask you.
    >Thanks
    >Grace

    Hi, Grace. Read "Frequently Asked Question" 16. 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
    June 26, 2015


    What is all this musical chairs nonsense, part 3

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Friday, June 26, 2015 2:03 PM
    >Subject: response to Rosemary 6/25
    >It seems as if you are a very serious player but may be missing the benefits of the social aspect of MJ. I enjoy playing competitively but my group now includes 2 ladies who have memory problems. They are good friends. I suggested to my group that they not be seated at the same table--they need help remembering which pass is next in the Charleston, which pass they are on, # of tiles in their rack, etc. My group agrees and we strive to keep them at separate tables so we can monitor things. It takes patience and gentleness to assist them--but so what? We are making them happy and helping people in need who need kindness and respect. Isn't that more important than winning? If you want competitive MJ you should strictly play tournaments. I understand your frustration, but I have learned to put things in perspective.
    >Linda


    What is all this musical chairs nonsense, part 2

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Thursday, June 25, 2015 4:38 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Rotating players:
    >At our community groups we love it when there is an extra person or two as they are the 'floaters'. As soon as one table is done, east gets up and the floater takes their place. It continues in this manner.
    >If we have no extra players, we suggest people 'be patient, have a cookie, go to the restroom' or set up the wall slowly and another table will be done and easts can change places.
    >This two options work well for us and I love playing with different people.
    >Donna
    >California

    Nice, Donna. (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 25, 2015


    What is all this musical chairs nonsense, hmmmm?

    >From: Rosemary R
    >Sent: Thursday, June 25, 2015 7:06 AM
    >Subject: Musical chairs Mah Jongg
    >I am 82, college degree, retired teacher. We play every Wed. at the golf club where several of us learned to play 2 years ago. In the meantime, I have played 3 times a week in Florida at 4 different sites and even now play an additional day of the week with Jewish friends at a Community Center. Never have I seen or heard of a "rule" that includes a kind of "musical chairs" between games. East must move to the next table...in effect, making everyone play with different players each time. To me, this causes unnecessary disruption..and is inconvenient, since not all games end at the same time. Also, some people arrive at different times, causing more disruption, expecting others to move to accommodate them. We are told by the woman that taught us that this is "how it's always done"! Hmmmm?

    Hi, Rosemary.
    This is a first. I usually get questions from the other side; people who want to encourage mixing. But before I go into that more, let me address your primary question.
    There is no "rule" about table rotation, for the simple reason that the official rules assume one table. For instance, a game at someone's home, just 4 people (or 3, or 5). The League has not codified any rules for community centers or golf clubs or even tournaments. So that's the answer to the question you asked.

    I encourage you to consider this from the vantage point of your teacher, or the activities director at the golf club or community center. She has a diverse constituency to serve; it doesn't serve her purposes if cliques are formed, with tightknit foursomes excluding newcomers. She wants people to have opportunities to play with others. So she has to come up with some way to rotate players between tables. There are formalized procedures used by tournament organizers, in a setting where everyone starts playing at the same time and finishes at the same time. But those procedures can't always work in the sort of situation you describe. And it's people like her who write me asking for my ideas about how to best arrange things. You can scroll down and read "Rotating players with multiple tables," From: Sharron B, Sent: Monday, May 18, 2015.

    As for that thing you said about games not ending at the same time, I discussed that with Linda Z in "How do you determine rotation, part 2" in November 2013 (there's a link in the Sharron B post below). I see the problem but I don't have a ready solution. If you don't like the way your teacher handles things, you can discuss with her some ideas that might suit her needs while also suiting the desires of all the players. But I don't have any magic answers for you (or for her). I suppose in another 15 or 20 years I may have to deal with such matters myself, but since I don't have to deal with such matters yet, I haven't come up with any handy solutions.
    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
    June 25, 2015


    Can I use zero in Consecutive Runs? (part 2)

    >From: "mariab
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2015 8:49 AM
    >Subject: Re: re question
    >thanks. answer is no

    Yup. And now you know where the FAQs are!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom


    How do you deal with a chatty player?

    >From: John and Connie W
    >Cc: Georgia Q
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2015 8:22 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >How do you deal with a chatty player? She talks about subjects other than Mah Jongg throughout the game and distracts the thinking process of all players. She was told prior to joining our group that she would need to curb her natural tendency to chat as Mah Jongg is a game that requires concentration. When first learning she was fairly quiet but now she’s back to her chatty distracting self. Is there a polite way to let her know she’s affecting the game and annoying the other players? Or just go for it and tell her to be quiet.
    >Thank you for any suggestions you may have.
    >Connie W
    >johncon640
    >p.s.: I’ve shared your website with our Mah Jongg group

    Hi, Connie.
    Is there a polite way to tell someone she's distracting the thinking process of everyone else in the room? Sure, but I'm not going to give you a magic string of words. You say she was already told that she would need to curb that natural tendency of hers, since the game requires concentration. She simply has to be reminded of it, again and again. Tell her before starting the next game. Tell her again as soon as she starts chatting when people have tiles on their racks. The time for chatting is between hands, not during. Count how many times you remind her, and give her the count. "That's three times we've had to remind you today, dear. Now play." It's like Marge Simpson said: "This can be fixed with some gentle nagging."
    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
    June 24, 2015


    Can I use zero in Consecutive Runs?

    >From: "mariab
    >To: tom@sloperama
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2015 7:22 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: re question
    >From: mariab
    >To: tom@soperama
    >Sent: 6/24/2015 10:20:17 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time
    >Subj: re question
    >can 2 white dragons be used as zeros to start 11, 22. 33, 44, 55, 66. or must it be all numbers and no zero?
    >maria b

    Hi, Maria.
    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-BH. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 24, 2015


    Donation and column questions

    >From: Tom R via PayPal
    >To: Thomas Sloper
    >Sent: Monday, June 22, 2015 8:52 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Tom R (tomjaner...
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$5.00 USD from Tom R (tomjaner...). 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: Tom R
    >Sincerely,
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    >From: Tom and Jane
    >To: Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Monday, June 22, 2015 9:34 AM
    >Subject: Thanks!
    >Hi Tom, thank you for the answer you provided. I am going through the "strategy" q & a and learning a lot. I donated, just so you know I am not a freeloader. Just wondering if it is possible to use tiles (like most of my friends' sets and mine) that have numbers on all the tiles for your examples?? I have a hard time knowing the dif btwn 6,8,9 on the dots and bams. Just a thought.
    >Jane

    >From: Tom and Jane
    >To: Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Monday, June 22, 2015 9:45 AM
    >Subject: column #635, #2
    >Hi Tom, Why wouldn't you work toward S & P #6 (9,8 & 7) with this hand having 8 tiles toward it? You could pass 3B, 4D & Green Dragon.
    >Jane

    >From: Tom and Jane
    >Sent: Monday, June 22, 2015 10:09 AM
    >Subject: Column 635, # 5
    >Why wouldn't you go toward quints #3 with W wind, red dragon and 3C? You would have 6 tiles towards it?
    >Jane

    Hi, Jane. Thanks for the donation. You wrote:

    Just wondering if it is possible to use tiles (like most of my friends' sets and mine) that have numbers on all the tiles for your examples?? I have a hard time knowing the dif btwn 6,8,9 on the dots and bams.
    I use a computer font to display those, because that's much MUCH less time-consuming than using images. In my opinion, the 6D and 8D and 9D and 8B font characters are easy to distinguish - and the only tricky ones are 6B and 9B. I could, I suppose, if I wasn't overworked, take the time to modify the font - but I don't have time, and don't know when I will. I think the answer is to make them bigger. I can make them bigger, but then the images will be larger (which sort of amounts to the same thing as a reader zooming in on them, except then one is also enlarging the text)... sorry, just thinking out loud. I don't have a reasonable solution to that problem (6B / 9B), sorry.

    column #635, #2... Why wouldn't you work toward S & P #6 (9,8 & 7) with this hand having 8 tiles toward it? You could pass 3B, 4D & Green Dragon.
    I don't like S&P if I don't have parts of most of the needed singles and pairs (singles being easier to get than pairs). I don't have any 9Bs and I need a pair of them. I need a pair of 8Ds and I don't have any. That's really a long shot.

    Column 635, # 5 ... Why wouldn't you go toward quints #3 with W wind, red dragon and 3C? You would have 6 tiles towards it?
    Janice E wrote me about that one on May 19. I appended my conversation with her to column 635 (and it's here on the board, down 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
    June 22, 2015


    Your column

    >From: Stacey N
    >Sent: Monday, June 22, 2015 10:33 AM
    >Subject: column
    >I just wanted to let you know how much I have appreciated your column. I have been playing about a year now, and was really struggling with the Charleston stage. I happened upon your column, studied it, have practiced (I play games with myself...It's excellent, condensed practice) and am already feeling more confident! I see you haven't posted a new one in a couple of weeks, I hope everything is ok. Is there way to be on a mailing list so that when you post a new column I am notified?
    >Thank,
    >Stacey N

    Hi, Stacey.
    I get more mail when I don't write the column than when I do! Everything's OK, I'm just overworked (and that's a good thing, because I'm being paid). I don't know how to set up a mailing list that's easy to manage, and I don't want to take the time to learn how. Sorry about that, Chief! (That last thing was a frequently heard line from Get Smart.)
    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
    June 22, 2015


    Donation

    >From: Elinor G via PayPal
    >To: Thomas Sloper
    >Sent: Monday, June 22, 2015 2:05 AM
    >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 Elinor G
    >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: Elinor G
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thanks, Elinor!
    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
    June 22, 2015


    Where to find cheap mah-jongg accessories?

    From: Wilma Turetzky
    Sent: Sunday, June 21, 2015 9:02 AM
    Subject: where to find inexpensive replacement case for vintage maj jongg set
    Tom,
    I am trying to find an inexpensive replacement set [sic] for my 1940's era maj jongg set. I do not like the new aluminum cases. I would prefer a faux wood look case.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.
    Wilma Turetzky
    wilma.turetzky@indstate.edu

    Hi, Wilma. You can try the vendors listed in FAQ 4A. And you can try the Accessories For Sale bulletin board. I'm posting this on the Accessories Wanted board.
    May the inexpensive case 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
    Father's Day, 2015


    Can I claim a discarded redeemable tile?

    >From: Elinor G
    >Sent: Sunday, June 21, 2015 9:59 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I've checked through the list of answers but can't find this one. Can a player pick a discard, exchange it for a joker in an exposed hand (person who discarded didn't see the opportunity), and then use the joker for mah Jongg?


    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-G-2. I infer that you already know that you can link to the FAQs above left. You can also see rule 5 on page 19 of the official NMJL rulebook, Mah Jongg Made Easy (everybody who plays should have a copy).
    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
    Summer Solstice, 2015


    Ashy, dried-out Bakelite

    >From: Albert M
    >Sent: Friday, June 19, 2015 1:34 AM
    >Subject: Question about Bakelite Tiles Drying Out
    >Hello Mr. Sloper,
    >First, I want to thank you for your amazing website and the contributions you have made to Mahjong. You are, I believe, the foremost expert on Mahjong in the entire world and it is a privilege just to be emailing you. I know your time is valuable so I will attempt to be brief.
    >I recently opened a new package of black bakelite tiles. Some have a slightly ashy appearance on the sides which seems like dryness. Is it possible for bakelite to dry out and change appearance? I have tried holding these pieces in my hand for a minute to allow natural skin oils to moisturize the surfaces and this changes the ashy-ness into a richer more solid color like the nicer looking tiles in the set. Is this a bad idea? Is there a better way to moisturize bakelite? Am I entirely incorrect in this observation?
    >Thank you very much,
    >Al

    Hi, Al. Sorry for the delay. Working weekend. You wrote:

    ...new package of black bakelite tiles...
    Bakelite tiles would be old, so I'm not sure your tiles are Bakelite (also, although I have seen black tiles, and have some in my collection, I have not seen black Bakelite tiles). Just not really sure they're Bakelite, is what I'm saying.

    Some have a slightly ashy appearance on the sides which seems like dryness. Is it possible for bakelite to dry out and change appearance?
    I think that's the wrong question. Clearly it's possible for whatever plastic you have to have an ashy appearance. Old plastics do degrade with time, especially under unknown storage conditions. You should read through FAQ seven oh (7o - I write that out so it doesn't look like I'm saying seventy) and see what kind of care tips people have sent in. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    I have tried holding these pieces in my hand for a minute to allow natural skin oils to moisturize the surfaces and this changes the ashy-ness into a richer more solid color like the nicer looking tiles in the set. Is this a bad idea?
    The alternative would be what, to wear gloves so skin oils never touch the tiles? Tiles are supposed to be touched. If skin oil improves their appearance, I'm all for it.

    Is there a better way to moisturize bakelite?
    I don't know if there is, and I don't know if your tiles are Bakelite. See what you can find in FAQ 7-o. I'm sure your tiles will be just fine.

    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
    Father's Day / Summer Solstice: June 21, 2015


    Donation

    >From: Leslie C via PayPal
    >Sent: Saturday, June 20, 2015 3:41 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Leslie C
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $1.00 USD from Leslie C. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $1.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Confirmation number: #########
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Leslie C
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thanks, Leslie.


    Is this a Frankenstein set?

    >From: Leslie C
    >Sent: Saturday, June 20, 2015 12:57 PM
    >Subject: Pushers
    >First of all thank you!
    >I have a set I am trying to sell. Have identified the tiles as fishbone (with your help) but the set also has these pushers that look like bakelite to me. Did they mix the two materials in one set? It is a Royal brand if that helps.
    >Thanks again,
    >Leslie

    Hi, Leslie.
    Those colored plastic things aren't "pushers." They're "racks." See Frequently Asked Question 7-D. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    Also, your tiles are not fishbone. They're plastic. Read FAQ 7C again, and also read FAQ 7C3.
    No Doctor Frankenstein cobbled your set together. Oh - and as to the way you arranged your tiles for the photo, I recommend you see FAQ 7B.
    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
    June 20, 2015


    Three players went dead. What now?

    >From: Ron & Harriet H
    >Sent: Saturday, June 20, 2015 11:42 AM
    >Subject: Question re dead hands
    >Yesterday 3 players had declared dead hands. 2 had incorrect # tiles. Then the 2 remaing players continued playing. One of these players then declared a dead hand. What is the ruling on the remaing player with a legit hand. By the way, the next tile that player would have drawn would have been for maj. Yesterday I was told that there was no winner. That doesn't seem right but since I am new to the game, I'm asking for an official ruling. Hope this never happens again.
    >Thank you.

    Hi, Ron & Harriet.
    I don't understand. Do your players routinely call themselves dead? Because that's against the rules. See Frequently Asked Question 19-AC. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    But you asked about what happens when 3 players go dead. See FAQ 19-BW.
    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
    June 20, 2015


    Is RDWW out of date?

    >From: Elizabeth B
    >Sent: Saturday, June 13, 2015 8:37 AM
    >Subject: Rules NMJL in your book Red Dragon and West Wind
    >I am a new player and have purchased your book which has been very helpful to me. I only have my new card 2015 and no others to review the rules. Have there been any additions or corrections to the 2006 rules printed in your book? I really want to play with all the knowledge I can have.
    >Thanks,
    >Ann

    Hello, Ann.
    My apologies for the late response. I had not been checking my email spam folder, and only now found your email. As I told ... oh wait, that was you too!
    ...Never mind!
    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
    Juneteenth, 2015


    When did this store get defunked?

    >From: Felice <compukiel
    >Sent: Friday, June 19, 2015 4:27 PM
    >Subject: Defunked Mah Jonng Store
    >I have researched the seller's label but can't find a date as to when it closed. I have 2 sets.
    >And all I can find is
    >and
    >were from the 1940's. Any idea when this store closed? I think these sets based on 16, and 14 flowers

    Hi, Felice.
    Took me a while to realize what "defunked" meant - you meant "defunct," or in other words when did the store shut down. I have no idea myself, but maybe a reader will know something!
    By the way: have you read column 509? http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/column509.htm
    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
    Juneteenth, 2015


    Column 636, part 2

    >From: Tom and Jane
    >Sent: Thursday, June 18, 2015 9:58 AM
    >Subject: Re: newsletter #636
    >So sorry, it was on point #5.
    >Jane R

    Hi, Jane.
    I did identify Odds #4 as one option, and Consec. #1 as another. The tiles I chose to pass preserve both of those options. The main problem with Odds #4 is that you have two incomplete pairs, whereas for Consec. #1 you have only one incomplete pair. As you noted, there is one extra tile towards the Odds option.
    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
    June 18, 2015


    Column 636

    >From: Tom and Jane
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 4:08 PM
    >Subject: newsletter #636
    >Hi Tom, I enjoy your website, just discovered it two days ago. You think logically and I can usually gain much by following your reasoning. But I am puzzled as to why you would not save the tiles to try for ODD # 4 which would give you 6 tiles rather than save the tiles to try for Consecutive Run #1 which would give you only 5 tiles? Is it because you have neither the 1 or 5 crak pair whereas you already have the 9 dot pair ?
    >Thank you, Jane R

    Hi, Jane. Glad you found my column and find it interesting. Which puzzle in the above are you referring to?
    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
    June 17, 2015


    When can I redeem, part 2

    >From: Suzanne B
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2015 6:13 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom...thanks for such a speedy reply! However there does seem to be a controversy. Your first response to my inquiry ....
    >When is it too late to claim a discard?
    >A: The "window of opportunity" (during which a player may claim a discard) opens when a tile is "down," and closes when next player either racks, discards, declares mah-jongg, or exchanges a joker.

    >This would indicate that the exchanging of the joker denotes the start of her "turn" and the previous discard is not available.
    >However....On reading more detail as suggested.
    >Q: 1. When can I redeem a joker? 2. Can I redeem a joker before I take a discard? Can I redeem a joker after I take a discard for exposure? 3. Can I redeem a joker atop my own rack?
    >A: 1, 2. You can redeem a joker only when it is your turn. When it is your turn, you must first bring a 14th tile into the hand, before you can redeem a joker. There are two ways to bring a 14th tile into the hand - by picking from the wall OR by taking a discard for exposure. THEN, after picking (or after taking and exposing a COMPLETE* exposure), you may redeem jokers from atop anyone's rack (including your own). Then you may discard or declare mah-jongg (either of which ends your turn).

    >This would seem to indicate that if "she" hasn't picked up a tile and racked it, then the previous discard is still available. (?)
    > (Eeek! Which is it. Actually I like the first best 'cos I've always taught that although advisable to pick up BEFORE making a joker exchange, it is not a hard rule....just a tip so as not to forget in one's excitement, then discard and now only have 12 tiles.)
    >thanks as always...Suzanne

    Hi, Suzanne. You wrote:

    >A: The "window of opportunity" (during which a player may claim a discard) opens when a tile is "down," and closes when next player either racks, discards, declares mah-jongg, or exchanges a joker.
    >This would indicate that the exchanging of the joker denotes the start of her "turn" and the previous discard is not available.
    No. In order to redeem a joker, a player must first have 14 tiles in her hand. That means a player would have to either call a discard and make an exposure, then redeem the joker - or pick from the wall, and then redeem the joker. Imagine a player picks from the wall, and sees that the tile she picked can be exchanged. She can immediately make the exchange, closing the window on the previous discard. That's what the FAQ answer is referring to.

    This would seem to indicate that if "she" hasn't picked up a tile and racked it, then the previous discard is still available. (?)
    Yes. The previous discard is still live, up until the time she racks her pick, discards her pick, or redeems her pick.

    I've always taught that although advisable to pick up BEFORE making a joker exchange, it is not a hard rule....
    No. It is a hard rule.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 16, 2015


    Can the last discard be claimed for mah-jongg?

    >From: Rosemary T
    >Sent: Saturday, June 13, 2015 6:34 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Can Mah-Jongg be called by a player when the last tile in the game is discarded by another player? Thank you

    Yes, of course it can. If the tile gives you mah-jongg, declare mah-jongg. If nobody could win on the last discard, there'd be no reason for making the last discard (the rules would say that the last player does not discard - and the rules don't say that). In Asian versions of mah-jongg, this rare event adds to your score. (You don't need to know that last thing I said, so don't read it.)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 16, 2015


    When can I redeem a joker?

    >From: Suzanne B
    >Sent: Monday, June 15, 2015 7:54 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >I have taught many ladies in my community and can usually answer any questions. But here's what occurred...
    >An exposure, already "up" had a Joker in it.
    >The game was progressing correctly.
    >A discard had been laid
    >Then the next person, correctly, as it was her turn, made the play to exchange the correct tile for the exposed Joker.
    >However, someone then called for the previously discarded tile.
    >The player making the Joker exchange said she could not as her "Turn" was now in play.
    >But she had not picked up from the wall and "racked" a tile prior to conducting the Joker exchange, so I said the discard was still available for calling. And it was no longer "her turn".
    >She claimed that....the act of exchanging the tile for the Joker constituted the start of her turn and thus the previous discard was dead.
    >Who was right? Thanks so much
    >Suzanne

    Hi, Suzanne.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-M. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 15, 2015


    When was this joker design introduced?

    >From: Linda M
    >Sent: Monday, June 15, 2015 4:46 PM
    >Subject: joker question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Would you happen to know when the most recent Mah Jongg joker design, the one commonly seen on new sets, (with what appears to be flames coming out of the upper right area of a circle) was introduced? I read FAQ 7G, column 311, and searched the internet, but couldn't find the answer to my question. I am trying to determine the earliest date a set that has that joker design could be.
    >Thanks so much.
    >Love your column.
    >Linda M

    Hi, Linda.
    Oh, like this one:

    Chris Schumann found that image about 4 years ago. You can see our exchange in FAQ 7E (the "mystery tiles" FAQ). But sorry, other than saying "probably sometime after 1961," I really have no idea. Sorry! You might want to try CHarli's website (it's listed in FAQ 4A).
    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
    June 15, 2015


    The 1948 "flower bonus"

    >From: Barbra J
    >Sent: Sunday, June 14, 2015 10:55 AM
    >Subject: 1948 nmjl card
    >On the 1948 card there is a small section on the bottom of the 3rd panel of hands about flower bonuses. Unfortunately it is blurry and difficult to completely read what the instructions say on the left. Can you tell me about how the flower bonuses worked back then? We are thinking about trying to play an old card.
    >Do you know what years the flower bonuses started and ended?
    >Thanks
    >Babs j

    Hi Babs,
    What do you mean, "it is blurry"? Are you trying to play from a photograph?
    Flowers were wild back then, and the flower bonus is essentially the ancestor of today's jokerless bonus. It says you get (or pay, no matter who you are*) 150 extra points if you have "only 6" flowers in a 2-septette hand. It says you get (or pay) 100 extra points if you have "only 4" flowers in a 2-sextette hand. And you get (or pay) 50 extra points if you're making a 2-quint hand with no more than 2 flowers in the kong.
    *The fine print says the bonus (or payment**) applies the same to everyone, whether you're the dealer or the bettor or anything.
    **If you're the winner or a winning bettor, it's a bonus you collect. If you're a non-winning player or bettor, it's a bonus you have to pay.

    If you're trying to play from a blurry photograph of a 1948 card, you'll probably have a lot more questions.     ...I shudder at the thought.
    Oh. And no, I don't know when the flower bonus started; it evolved into today's jokerless bonus, clearly.
    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
    June 14, 2015


    Is RDWW out of date?

    >From: Elizabeth B
    >Sent: Saturday, June 13, 2015 8:01 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >> I have the book "The Red Dragon and The West Wind" with a set of 2006 NMJL rules. Have any of those rules been changed or new rules added? I am a new player and do not have any cards between 2006 rules and my new 2015 card. Please help!
    >Thank you

    Hi, Elizabeth.
    I'm so glad you have my book. The rules described in that book are not "2006 rules." They are "American rules (NMJL)." The League has not changed its rules (they do not change the rules every year - they only change the list of hands every year). My book was not created to accompany any specific card -- I deliberately and carefully avoided using any hands from any NMJL card, to avoid copyright issues while informing readers of general principles about how cards are written and how to interpret them. I have created a document listing corrections and updates ("errata") to my book, and you can download the up-to-date errata at the RDWW page.
    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
    June 13, 2015


    After breaking the wall, where do the leftover tiles go?

    >From: Betty W
    >Sent: Friday, June 12, 2015 8:57 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >East rolls the dice. She breaks her wall, my group wants to know if there is a specific spot, say right or left of the rack she is using, where the remaining tiles are placed?
    >(these tiles would be the last wall to use in the game) If not a rule how do we decide so all do the same? We play with racks. Thank you, I am new player and your site has helped tremendously!
    >golfingbetty

    Hi Betty,
    I've noticed that my students often struggle with this, and I've even seen experienced players go through unnecessary steps when breaking the wall. So I'm declaring this a Frequently-Asked Question, and I'll add this to FAQ 19.

    Here's where it begins (image below). You have a wall of 19 tiles (yellow) lined up behind a rack (light blue).

    You're the "dealer" (or "East"). You roll the dice. Let's say you roll an eight.
    The rack is in the way, making it difficult to break the wall cleanly, so you pull the rack back away from the wall (image below).

    You count eight tiles from the right. Then, using your left hand, with your index finger at X (image below) and your thumb at y, you pull the tiles to the left and make a small break in the wall.

    You want to use the rack to push out a nice straight wall, so you slide the rack to the left (image below).

    Push the rack up into contact with the tiles (image above).

    Place your left hand on the rack so that your index finger is at X and your thumb is at Y.
    Put your right hand on the rack at Z, and push out with your right hand.

    So you see that you have now served out the first wall (the tiles to the left of the break, see image above), leaving the tiles to the right of the break where they were. The tiles to the left of the break are the beginning of the wall, and the tiles to the right of the break are the back end of the wall.

    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
    June 12, 2015


    Why use dice?

    >From: andrea r
    >Sent: Friday, June 12, 2015 5:08 AM
    >Subject: Starting the Game
    >Hi tom,
    >When starting the game per NMJL rules east rolls the dice then breaks the wall before picking tiles. Why is this done? Some of my collegues, push the
    >Entire wall out to start the game and say it’s silly and a waste of time to roll the dice. Which method is correct and why?
    >Thank you,
    >Andrea

    Good morning, Andrea.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-AP. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 12, 2015


    Can you throw to four exposures?

    >From: Gail E L
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 7:39 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg question
    >Can you ever throw to the fourth exposure?
    >Thank you
    >Grace

    Grace, there is a difference between rules and strategies. There is no rule against throwing to any number of exposures. Read the card. Read the official rulebook. You'll find no such rule.
    Secondly - I don't think there is any hand on the card that allows for four exposures prior to going mah-jongg. But let's imagine that there is such a thing. Or maybe you are talking about a player who has only three (not four) exposures showing. In either case, wouldn't you be able to tell what tile she needs?
    If you throw her obvious hot tile, what clue do you have that she won't win on it? What I'm asking is: why would you want to throw it? Have you been watching her body language, have you determined that she isn't sitting there ready for the final tile you are going to throw?
    If she wins on it, are you prepared for the ridicule you'll receive from the other players? For years to come? Including the retelling to other tables at tournaments, the giggles, the pointing, the smirks?
    If you are absolutely certain that she can't win on the tile you're going to discard, can you call her dead? If you know she's dead, why don't you call her dead? If you are the only one who knows she's dead, and you throw what the others think is her hot tile, you could still have some splainin' to do later... the proof'll be in the pudding, though - if she doesn't go maj, you obviously did know something, and the others will want to know how you knew it.
    But there is no rule against throwing to two, three, or four exposures. In a tournament, you could lose points for doing it - that does not mean there's a rule against it.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 9, 2015


    She picks ahead, part 2

    >From: Eileen J
    >Sent: Monday, June 8, 2015 1:48 PM
    >Subject: answer to picker aheader
    >Dear Tom,
    >Thank you for your reply to my question of 6/5.
    >On 6/8 I called the MJ League and explained to them my problem with the picker - aheader. They said rule #1 on the back of the card must be followed at all times, it is not a suggestion. Rule 1. No picking or looking ahead. You can not touch a tile until the player before you has completed their turn.They said there is no reason to call her dead because she Can Not pick ahead period. They went on to say if the woman refuses to play by the rules she should not be allowed to play and asked what advanced group would allow this?
    >I hope bringing attention to this "bad habit" will force the leader and players to strictly enforce this and all the rules. I think it's the rules that make MJ a friendly game in our homes or at the rec centers.
    >Tom, I do value your input in this matter. It's hard to find a player's actions unacceptable when others say or do nothing. I'm wise enough to know most things don't matter tomorrow. When this player continued to pick ahead after I asked her not to I am glad I had you to turn to. You advocate sporting and honorable play and your columns caution use of aggressive and unkind behavior.
    >I hope this issue will be settled without me having to make what you call, "the death challenge". Our leader said she will bring it up tomorrow.
    >Thank you
    >Eileen j

    Good luck with that, Eileen. Hopefully your picker-aheader will accept the validity of the NMJL rule and will adopt a more harmonious style of play.
    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
    June 8, 2015


    Column feedback, part 4

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Monday, June 8, 2015 7:54 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Your most recent column: #12 - how about Consecutive run #4 with 5B, 5D, 7B, 7D as hot tiles?
    >Bee

    Yep. Phyllis and Barbara beat you to it, though (below).
    May the tiles be with you. - Tom


    Column feedback x3

    >From: "row019
    >Sent: Monday, June 8, 2015 5:12 AM
    >Subject: Column 637
    > Tom - Column 637, exposure#9. Couldn't this be Winds and Dragons #3? Pung any like odd number.
    > Phyllis

    >From: barbara H
    >Sent: Monday, June 8, 2015 9:13 AM
    >Subject: Your latest email
    >For #12 of Column #637 Couldn't the player also be attempting Consecutive Run #4 with
    >3 red Dragons and 3 of 6 Cracks?

    >From: "Shipp, L
    >Sent: Monday, June 8, 2015 9:34 AM
    >Subject: Questions about Column #637
    >Hi, Mr. Sloper.
    > Re. Hand #9 within Column #637, couldn’t the player’s pung of 9s be exposed for Winds/Dragons #3 (i.e., Ns & Ss + odd nos.)?
    > Re. Hand #12 within Column #637, couldn’t this also be Consecutive #4, with 5s and 7s in Bams and Dots being hot?
    > Love your column,
    >Libby

    Good morning, ladies. Let's see what you wrote:

    exposure#9. Couldn't this be Winds and Dragons #3? Pung any like odd number.
    Very good, Phyllis. I missed that one.

    For #12 ... Couldn't the player also be attempting Consecutive Run #4 with
    >3 red Dragons and 3 of 6 Cracks?
    You are right, Barbara. I missed that one.

    Re. Hand #9 ..., couldn’t the player’s pung of 9s be exposed for Winds/Dragons #3 (i.e., Ns & Ss + odd nos.)?
    > Re. Hand #12 ..., couldn’t this also be Consecutive #4, with 5s and 7s in Bams and Dots being hot?
    Yep. Phyllis and Barbara beat you to it, though.

    May the tiles be with you all.
    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
    June 8, 2015


    Where's the click, part 3

    I just want to add something to the question Lynn asked about the window of opportunity in the American game. I think it's worth noting that in the official Chinese rules, the window of opportunity is open for 3 seconds. I think that is a generous and fair length of time. The NMJL has not codified a length of time for the window, but when there's a question about whether the rack or the call came first, it would not be unreasonable to apply the Chinese 3-second rule. In the official MCR, when the call is made within 3 seconds, the picker has to replace the tile on the wall, and the caller can have the discard.
    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
    June 6, 2015


    What's the objective of the game?

    >From: Robin
    >Sent: Saturday, June 6, 2015 6:57 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg objective
    >Hi. Is the objective of Mahj Jongg to win or to prevent others from winning? Oftentimes in our games, some of the players will throw a “hot” tile on the last wall when it’s pretty obvious what hand another player is going for by what’s showing. It frustrates me as I would break up my hand to prevent someone else from winning as I was taught by my mom.
    >Thank you!

    Hi, Robin. You wrote:

    Is the objective of Mahj Jongg to win or to prevent others from winning?
    Different players may have different objectives.
    Most players, though, play mah-jongg (even American mah-jongg) as a gambling game. The objective is to wind up with more money than you started with. The way to do that is to win; failing that, to minimize losses.

    Oftentimes in our games, some of the players will throw a “hot” tile on the last wall when it’s pretty obvious what hand another player is going for by what’s showing.
    That's either poor strategy or not paying attention (on the part of your opponents). There's no good reason to throw a hot tile, unless the player has one hot tile standing between her and a win, and is willing to knowingly take the risk.

    It frustrates me as I would break up my hand to prevent someone else from winning
    That's just good strategy, given that the objective (when unable to win money) is to minimize money losses.

    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
    June 6, 2015


    Where's the click, part 2

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Friday, June 5, 2015 10:56 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Sorry Tom, I meant to type “comment” instead of “column” referring to Donna on 6/2/15. I have to admit I didn’t read inside the parenthesis in the Quints section of the 2015 card since I don’t try those hands but was surprised that some players who do couldn’t figure out which hand Donna was playing.
    >I understand about the tile not having to make a sound when player racks but... and this came up today. I am taking a deep breath before typing this: Can the tile be more than 1/2 way down the slanted rack and have clicked going down but not yet standing of its own free will on the bottom rack and be called “racked”? Another player said that the tile wasn’t yet racked fully because fingers were still on tile. (But if player had let go of tile it would have dropped nicely onto lower rack right below it.)
    >My comment regarding Eileen’s question of 6/5/15: When we had a player not follow a couple of NMJL rules, we mentioned it to her, showed her where each rule was stated on card and/or in your book, “The Red Dragon & The West Wind” and said that if she wanted to continue to do these 2 things, then we all would do them so everyone would have an equal chance at winning. She decided she would follow the correct rules and everything has worked out fine. Again many thanks, Lynn P

    Hi, Lynn. You wrote:

    Can the tile be more than 1/2 way down the slanted rack and have clicked going down but not yet standing of its own free will on the bottom rack and be called “racked”? Another player said that the tile wasn’t yet racked fully because fingers were still on tile. (But if player had let go of tile it would have dropped nicely onto lower rack right below it.)
    So what you're saying is that the call came at the same time the next player was racking. And you're asking, "what if the call comes simultaneous with the next player in turn racking?" All I can say at this point is, consider whether the picker picked and racked a little too quickly, or if the caller delayed just a hair too long. If a picker is pausing just a beat before picking, then she's allowed enough time for another player to call the live discard. Someone who doesn't speak until a reasonable-speed picker is in the act of racking has probably taken a hair too long deciding she wants the discard.

    She decided she would follow the correct rules and everything has worked out fine.
    Very nice!

    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
    June 5, 2015


    She picks ahead

    >From: Eileen J
    >Sent: Friday, June 5, 2015 6:15 PM
    >Subject: picking ahead
    >Dear Tom,
    >I play with an advanced group in The Villages Fl with a women who consistently takes the next tile off the wall and positions it in front of her rack. She does this before the player in front of her has named and discarded the previous tile. I had the misfortune of following her for 3 rounds this week.
    >I asked her to please not touch the tile from the wall until the previous tile was correctly named and discarded. She did not stop. Can I or should I have called her dead? Her doing this must of affected her ability to call a tile for an exposure. A few times she made the move to return said tile to the rack but under my glare she racked it. She MJ once and I walked away with $3.60 but she sucked the joy out of a game I love.
    >When the game was over I asked the other 2 players at the table why they did not support my request and they said they didn't want a confrontation. I asked other members of this advanced group and they all said "that's Carol, she always picks ahead". What if we all were Carols?
    >Other than not playing with this group what is your advice for me on how to cope with this type of mean spirited behavior? I would like to share your response with the leader of this group.
    >Thank you,
    >Eileen J

    Hi Eileen,
    I think it's aggressive and unkind for one player to pick ahead when nobody else is doing it. Either everybody does it or nobody does it. Since your other 2 players are wimps who don't "want a confrontation," you have very few options. You could talk about it with the group, and you could ask the players if they want to even the playing field - everybody pick ahead, since when she does it she gives other players no time to call the discard from the player who goes before her. If everybody picks ahead, nobody will ever have time to call any discard. Of course, when you say that last sentence, your picker-aheader will deny that the practice does any such thing, and she'll explain how she thinks it ought to work.

    Since your other 2 players do not want to ever disagree with your picker-aheader on anything, they and you will have to go along with however your picker-aheader wants to do things. She becomes the de facto rule-setter for your group. Actually, she already is the rule-setter for your group, since the other 2 players back her up and not you. So you might as well find out what the rules are.

    OR... since you clearly have some backbone, you could go ahead with your plan to call the picker-aheader dead every time she picks ahead. When anyone asks the basis, point to rule #1 on the back of the card. And just stand your ground.

    Those are your 2 options, if you play with that group. Will be interesting to hear what happens.
    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
    June 5, 2015


    What the heck? And... Where's the click?

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Friday, June 5, 2015 5:12 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Concerning Donna’s column of 6/2/15 about her winning a tournament with a hand of 7 jokers. Which hand was she playing on the NMJL 2015 card or was she playing using another year’s card. My MJ group was discussing this Q&A comment and none of us could figure out what hand it was.
    >Also another item came into question today too. A player called a discard but another player said she had already racked. The player who called the discard said she didn’t hear the tile’s “click”! Now we are all over 70 so maybe some players’ hearing isn’t what it used to be but do you have to hear the click of the tile as it hits the bottom of the rack before tile is considered racked. Can the tile be sliding the down the back of the slanting rack and still be considered racked? Sometimes I think I am back in my classroom of 2nd and 3rd graders playing with some of these Mah Jongg players! But I figure where can I go for a Friday or Thursday afternoon and have some entertainment and snacks for $3 and $5 respectively? Well sometimes I win and sometimes I lose depending on whether the tiles and jokers are with me or not. Thanks to you for your book and your columns I win more than I lose. Hope your summer is an enjoyable one with not too much work that you can’t take time to smell the roses. Lynn P.

    Hi, Lynn. You wrote:

    Concerning Donna’s column of 6/2/15
    Q&As on this board are not columns - the strategy articles I write are columns.

    Which hand was she playing
    She described the hand as 7C8C8C9C 8B8B8BJJ JJJJJ - so she was making Quints #2:

    A player called a discard but another player said she had already racked. The player who called the discard said she didn’t hear the tile’s “click”!
    Racking doesn't necessarily always make an audible click. The call was too late.

    I win more than I lose.
    Then you are definitely a better player than any of your opponents. Good going!

    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
    June 5, 2015


    I need 4 more tiles

    >From: Beach Dorothy
    >Sent: Friday, June 5, 2015 2:18 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg
    >Hi
    >I was given a Mah Jongg set that has 148 tiles with green bases. There are no jokers but there are 4 blank tiles that I could use as jokers if I could find another 4.
    >Do you know where I could find extra blank tiles or jokers to match this set ?
    >Thanks.
    >Dorothy

    Welcome to my website, Dorothy.
    Please read Frequently Asked Questions 7-Q & 7-R. You can link to the FAQs above left. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about mah-jongg are found in the FAQs. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 2, 2015


    She They consistently stops the Charleston*

    >From: margaret l
    >Sent: Thursday, June 4, 2015 2:58 PM
    >Subject: stopping the game
    >At the senior center there are a number of people who consistently stop the game after the first Charleston. Now I know you do not have to have a reason but they do it almost every game which is quite annoying. Is there a tactful way to tell them not to stop the game every time...........not sure how to handle except just don't play with them..........thanks, marge

    Hi, Marge.
    I agree that it can be upsetting when a player does that. But you're asking me to give you a tactful way to tell someone something you have no right to tell her. And I can't do that. You can express to another player your unhappiness with her strategy, and you can even express to her that you are considering ceasing playing with her if she doesn't change her strategy. But you have no right to tell someone to stop stopping the Charleston.
    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
    June 4, 2015

    * I had initially misread the email, and my response was in the singular when it should have been in the plural - Tom


    Two old and beautiful sets (and a rare pamphlet)

    >From: Elise B
    >Sent: Thursday, June 4, 2015 10:33 AM
    >Subject: Rare pamphlet question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thank you so much for your site. I'll get right to it. I purchased two
    >Mahjong sets in a consignment shop about a year and a half ago. I don't
    >know much about Mahjong but I love old and beautiful things, and I've
    >played a few times with my sisters.
    >Set 1 -
    >The sets came from different owners. One set the consignment shop owner
    >didn't know much about, but it came with a pamphlet that reads
    >"Directions For Playing "Ma-Joe" by Yue Sing Zing & Co. I'll attach
    >pictures. Might these actually be ivory and how can I tell. I will
    >probably keep this set as

    Set 2 - (Pictures sent in separate email)
    >The other set was owned by a woman who lived in Gui Lin, China with her
    >husband in the 1940s. She said the set is Water Buffalo Bone and bamboo
    >(the bamboo is obvious). From your description, this is a non-export
    >set. The tiles have no Arabic numerals. The set is not in it's original
    >box, and the is well used. They smell of incense whenever you open the
    >box. (I love that).
    >I'm wondering if you might help me estimate an age for this set and give
    >me any information to help me determine authenticity. Because the box
    >is not original and the tiles don't fit perfectly, the previous owner
    >put Chinese newspaper and some other paper with Chinese writing along
    >side to keep them in place. I'll include pictures of those as well. I
    >will happily provide more pictures if you need them.
    >Thank you for any help you can provide,
    >Elise B
    >
    >From: Elise B
    >Sent: Thursday, June 4, 2015 10:35 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong set 2 - pictures
    >Here are the pictures of the second set.
    >Thank you again!
    >-Elise B

    Hi, Elise. It's inconvenient for me when you ask questions about two sets in one email, but I'll see what I can do. In my reply, I am only answering the questions you asked specifically.You wrote:

    Might these actually be ivory [set 1]
    They are not.

    and how can I tell.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 7c & 7c2. You can link to the FAQs above left. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    I'm wondering if you might help me estimate an age for this set [set 2]
    The tiles could have been made anytime from the 1940s to the 1990s. The tiles have been artificially aged. How can I tell? The tile has jokers, which were not made until the 1930s at the earliest.

    And the set uses the rectangular white dragon design instead of blank tiles, the modern-style crak character (wan), and there's a lot of dirt in the gap between bone and bamboo.

    The set is not in its original box,
    That's true of both sets. Neither is in its original case. That reduces the value. You mentioned the "rare pamphlet" in the subject line of your first email, but you never asked about it. I agree that that booklet is rare, since I have never seen one like it before.

    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
    June 4, 2015


    Donation

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    Thanks again, Anita. Much appreciated!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 2, 2015


    A maj tile was misnamed

    >From: jdbassoc
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 4:32 PM
    >Subject: miss called tile
    >If a tile is miss called but the caller quickly corrects herself, can the individual who needs the tile for mah jongg claim it for a mah jongg? For example: the tile is called 5 crack but it is a 5 dot and quickly corrected, can the 5 dot be considered for mj?
    >Thanks, Marie

    Hi, Marie.
    I have not seen an official ruling from the NMJL on this, so I can only tell you my opinion. Let's look at a few scenarios.

    Abigail discards 5D and says, "Five crak. No, five dot!" Betty, who needs 5C for mah-jongg, saw that the tile was 5D or simply hadn't had time to speak before Abigail corrected herself, and now says nothing, and doesn't give herself away with body language either. The game can continue, nobody knows Betty needs 5C, and she still has a chance to win.

    Abigail discards 5D and says, "Five crak. No,..." Betty jumps in, "Maj!" just as Abigail corrects herself, "... five dot." In this scenario, Betty wins, and Abigail has to pay for everyone.

    Abigail discards 5D and says, "Five crak. No, five dot!" Betty reacts, "Five crak is my maj tile!" Pandemonium ensues while the table erupts into a huge emotional argument over what should happen.

    Scenarios 1 and 2 are both correct. Scenario 3 is a nightmare of disharmony. Betty was too late, and in my opinion she should not have said anything. But human nature got in the way. The game is ruined now that someone's maj tile is known to all. Abigail had erred, and a literal reading of the official rule (on page 17) says that Abigail should pay for everyone. But the official rule is worded loosely, and in my opinion, once Abigail corrected herself, Betty should have remained silent, so that there would be no pandemonious brouhaha.

    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
    June 3, 2015


    What does "Like" mean?

    >From: Sara M. D
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 2:51 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: 2015 Card under “WINDS - DRAGONS” 3rd and 4th hand configuration. Is it legal to make a hand like NNNN SSSS 111 333 or 333 777?? Or does the configuration go NNNN SSSS 11joker & 11joker? All same suit, of course
    >The same for the even - EEEE WWWW 222 444 or EEEE WWWW 444 666 or does it go 22joker and 22joker? All same suit, of course.
    >Our group is in disagreement in interpreting these two hand configurations.
    >Appreciate your thoughts.
    >Thanks

    Hello, Sara.
    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-AU. Then read FAQ 16. Please bookmark FAQ 19 and FAQ 16 so you can easily return 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, and questions about the yearly card are answered in FAQ 16. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (or my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 3, 2015


    Of tournaments and jokers

    >From: Donna M via PayPal
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 1:10 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Donna M
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Donna M. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Donna M
    >Message: Hi Tom, Although I made my yearly donation several months ago, I wanted to give something in honor of taking first place in a large local tournament this past Sunday. It was my biggest win and personal best score (500 points). I've been doing occasional tournaments for the last two years an am ecstatic! Even with this win, being a student of the game, I'd love to get more insights and strategies from you. I remember reading a post a while back about tournament play, but would welcome another one. Maybe this summer when you have some down-time. Happy the tiles were with me, Donna
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    >
    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 1:29 PM
    >Subject: Five Jokers May 30 Question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Although the person asked a erroneous question as there are no hands with five flowers, thought I would share this one:
    >After being in a bit of a slump for a few weeks, I made the following hand (started with three jokers) by picking in my seventh joker. I had the single and pair tiles from the beginning and two 8 Bams. The player to my right was sitting with three 8 dots in her hand. Boy the tiles were with me.
    >7C8C8C9C 8B8B8BJJ J J J J J
    >How sweet it was!
    >Best,
    >Donna

    Thanks for the donation, Donna. You wrote:

    [I took] first place in a large local tournament this past Sunday. It was my biggest win and personal best score (500 points).
    Congrats. That is a feat I have not achieved.

    I'd love to get more insights and strategies from you. I remember reading a post a while back about tournament play, but would welcome another one.
    Not sure what you're looking for. A BB post? A column? What about tournament play exactly? I don't think there's much of a difference between tournament strategy and home strategy, except in how points are awarded -- which might explain why I haven't won a tournament. You're the one who has taken first place at a tournament, so how about you give us some tips?

    [Terre on May 30] asked a erroneous question as there are no hands with five flowers
    I suppose I should have told her, "you could, if there were such a hand." Still not sure exactly what it is she really wanted to know.

    Boy the tiles were with me.
    >7C8C8C9C 8B8B8BJJ J J J J J
    Nice.

    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
    June 3, 2015


    Column

    >From: "martham
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 7:57 AM
    >Subject: column
    >I just wanted to say how much I have learned & enjoyed your weekly updates. You have helped my game tremendously.
    >Thanks,
    >Martha

    Good to hear, Martha.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀


    Regular reader of your irregular column

    >From: Gladys L
    >Sent: Monday, June 1, 2015 9:03 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >As a new player I found your weekly columns immensely useful and am really sorry that you seem to have given up the weekly column and it is now every other week or even monthly.
    >I've bought your book (very good) and Sandberg's book and even "Bubbe Fisher", but none of them have been as helpful as your weekly columns and WWYP.
    >Do you think you may go back to once a week some time or has it just become too onerous after all this time?
    >Sincerely yours and thanks.
    >Glady

    Hi, Glady.
    From January to May, I had a hellish teaching/studying schedule, and last week I was just relaxing and decompressing. I have a less hellish summer teaching/studying schedule starting up next week, and I hope to maintain a regular column routine. Then there's the feedback I get about the column; I don't exactly get a duffel bag sized sack of emails every week, so It's hard for me to gauge how much impact the column is having. Just now I decided to go check the statistics. I find that there were 1,594 views of the column in April. That's a number for which I don't really have a gauge to know if it's a great number or not. I only occasionally hear from readers when I make an oopsie, or when I touch on a topic I haven't touched on before.
    I still might have to go biweekly; we'll see if I can swing weekly through the summer.
    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
    June 1, 2015


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