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The Mah-Jongg FAQs
(Frequently Asked Questions)

19. American Mah-Jongg
16. The NMJL Card

1. "Mah-Jongg 101"
2a. Which MJ Rules To Learn?
2b. Which MJ Rules Do I Play?
3. Books on Mah-Jongg
  3b. 1920s Books
4a Selected Links
4b Lots O' Links!
5. Computer MJ
6. "Rosetta Stone"
7.
  7a. Types of Sets
  7b. Is It Complete?
  7c. What's It Made Of?
  -   7c2. Is It Ivory?
  -   7c3. One Word: Plastics
  7d. Bits And Pieces
  7e. "Mystery Tiles"
  7f. Playing Tables
  7g. How Old Is It?
  7h. How Much Is It Worth?
  7i. Cards... and Kards
  7j. Tips For Buyers
  7k. Where To Buy (US/Eur.)
  7m. Where To Buy (Asia)
  7n. Tips For Sellers
  7o. Cleaning & Restoring
  7p. "Tell Me Anything"
  7q. "I Need Blank Tiles!"
  7r. "I Need Jokers!"
  7s. Tiles 4 Sight-Impaired
  7t. DIY Joker Stickers
  7u. Manufacturers
8. Strategy
9. Etiquette, Harmony, & Philosophy
10. MJ For Dummies
11. History of Mah-Jongg
   11a. Definitions, sources
   11b. Precursor games
   11c. Who created MJ
   11d. Earliest MJ writings
   11e. Earliest MJ sets
   11f. Proto-MJ & CC
   11h. History timeline
12.
13. Fewer Than 4 Players?
   13a. 3P/2P/5P/6P American MJ
   13b. 3P/2P Asian Forms
   13c. 3P/2P Japanese MJ
   13d. I Dunno, I'm Just Starting
   13e. Solitaire Tile-Matching
14. Table Rules
15. Finding Players & Teachers
16. The NMJL Card
17. HKOS
18. MJ Symbolism
19. American Mah-Jongg
20. Misunderstood Asian Rules
21. How To Run A Tournament
22. Chinese Official Scoring
23. Mah-Jongg Demographics
24. How To Get Technical Support
25. Can't Win Japanese Majan
26. Teaching Tips
27. Table Rotation

Maj Exchange Boards
Q & A Bulletin Board
Find Players/Teachers BB
Sets For Sale BB
Sets Wanted BB
Tiles For Sale BB
Tiles Wanted BB
Accessories For Sale BB
Accessories Wanted BB

Sloper On Mah-Jongg (Column)

Mah-Jonggy Fun
The 2002 WCMJ
The 2003 CMOC
The 2005 OEMC
The 2005 CMCF
The 2006 CMCF
The 2007 OEMC
The 2007 WMJC
Pictures of Japan
Beautiful Nikko, Japan
A Hong Kong MJ Adventure
Pictures of Beijing
Mahjong in India
Shanghai & Ningbo
Mah Jongg Madness 2012
Mah-Jongg Friends

The Mah Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION.

Hi. I'm Tom Sloper. Welcome to my bulletin board. Here you can ask questions about Mah-Jongg, and get answers, usually within hours!
  • But BEFORE YOU ASK YOUR QUESTION, PLEASE CHECK THE FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), and please scroll down and see if your question has already been asked and answered on the board.
  • PLEASE READ FAQ 19 BEFORE ASKING ABOUT AMERICAN / NMJL RULES. Your question has probably already been answered there.
  • IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT THE NMJL CARD, PLEASE READ FAQ 16.
  • IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A MAH-JONGG TEACHER, PLEASE READ FAQ 4A and check the Find Players/Teachers Bulletin Board and check FAQ 15.
  • When you're ready to ask your question, email your question to TomSloperama.com. I answer mah-jongg questions that are submitted by email only - telephoned questions are not welcome.


    Ask "Mister Mah-Jongg" a question!

    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 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 awkward 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.

    If you appreciate the free information on this site, your donation would be gratefully accepted, and would help keep this site running as a free service. Thank you!


    Not tax-deductible

    Keep scrolling - the Q&As are below.

    But before we get to the Q&As, this needs to be said:

    Answer to THE Most Frequently Asked Questions of 2018:
    "NEWS" is not a kong (it's four single tiles, or singletons) - just as "2018" is not a kong but four singles.
    1. Jokers may NEVER be used for a single tile, or for a pair.
    2. A single tile can not be called for exposure - only for mah-jongg.
    For more about NEWS, read FAQ 16. You can link to the FAQs above left. And read the back of the card!

    FAQ 16 answers questions about the NMJL card - and FAQ 19 answers questions about NMJL rules.
    There's a lot of info on the FAQ 19 page, but you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords.

  • Can I call myself dead?

    >From: Ellen W
    >Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2019 12:56 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Tom, can you tell me if I notice that my hand is dead (I took a discard and exposed a pung of ones which was part of a concealed hand) do I have to say something if no one notices or can I go on playing, probably defensively since I can’t win? I looked all over the card for where I could use another hand with a pung of ones and alas, couldn’t find one.
    >Thank you
    >Ellen

    Hi, Ellen!
    In the official rulebook, page 19, it says in rule 14: "If the exposure goes unnoticed, the erring player should not announce it and continues to play. Of course, Mah Jongg cannot be made." If you don't have the official rulebook, you can also find this rule in FAQ 19-AC.
    May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 14, 2019 2:50 PM


    Looking for a tile

    >From: Rose M
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 11:46 PM
    >Subject: 2005 China Majiang Championship and Forum
    >Hi, I saw that you attended the China Majiang forum in 2005. Someone gave me a set from that championship and forum, because my daughter-in-law is from China (Hainan), and her mother is coming to visit her in NYC soon. Of course, her mom loves to play Mahjongg - the Chinese, not American version.
    >The set I have is the China version (no jokers), but it is missing one tile. Since you attended the championship, I was wondering if you could advise me on the maker of this set, and how I might be able to obtain a new tile. I believe that the tile I am missing is the East wind.
    >The back of the tile is green - but the color isn't correct in the photo. I do notice there are some lines in the green, although the back of the tile is smooth to the touch.
    >Could you direct me in any way? I am not sure what the composition of these tiles are, and I am hoping that since you were there, you may also have a set, and could help me with my detective work!
    >Many thanks.
    >Rose M

    Hi, Rose.
    Sorry to disappoint you. I don't have one of those sets, and I have no idea what company manufactured it. If you're not sure you need an E, make a big square as described in FAQ 7B.

    May the missing tile be with you. You can try the tile sellers (see the Tiles For Sale board. But the likelihood of finding that specialized tile is very low.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Valentine's Day, 2019


    Why didn't the computer let me win?

    >From: Frances M
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 11:28 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Mr. Mah-Jongg and thanks in advance. Can you explain to me why this hand is not “Mah-Jongg”. I was trying for the 2018 card, Consecutive Run, 4th hand down.
    >I’m a beginner/intermediate so any help you can offer is greatly appreciated.
    >Thanks, Fran
    >Frances H M

    Hi, Fran!
    Read the back of the card. Left pane, last sentence of the last paragraph before the numbered rules. Look for the word "NEVER" (in all capital letters, bold text, and underlined).


    Every player should read everything on the NMJL card every year. In 2016, some wording was changed and some new wording was added. And many frequently asked questions are answered right there on the card. Every player needs to know these basic rules of the game.
    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
    February 13, 2019 12:20 PM


    What's a sextet, part 2

    >From: Ellen W
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 11:50 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >What is a sextet? When I look at the card, I see singles, pairs, pungs, kongs, and quints. What am I not seeing? Thank you, Tom. I am new to mahjong and I just found your site thanks to Michele Frizzell. I hope you got my donation through PayPal. You provide a great service to those of us who are trying to learn.
    >Thanks again.
    >Ellen

    Hi, Ellen.
    Sorry! I was rushing off to class when I posted my response to your kind donation, and I didn't have a chance to email you and let you know the below response had been posted, along with the answer to your question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 13, 2019 12:25 PM


    Donation! And: what's a sextet?

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 6:00 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Ellen W
    > paypal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Ellen W
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Ellen W
    >Message: I'm a new player and slowly going through your site. Thank you for the help. By the way, what is a sextet? I don't see one on the card. Only singles, pairs, pungs, kongs, and quints. Ellen Wagner
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Ellen!
    A sextet is exactly what you think it would be: a group of six identical tiles. The League sometimes has put a sextet of flowers on the card in the past. They reserve the right to do so again in the future, so the term stays alive even though sextets are rarely seen on the card these days.
    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
    February 13, 2019 8:25 AM


    What is the value of an all-pung hand, part 2

    >From: Patricia Q
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 9:03 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hong Kong version

    It's 3 fan, Patty. You should print the complete list of Hong Kong scoring combinations in FAQ 17. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 12, 2019 9:10 AM


    What is the value of an all-pung hand?

    >From: Patricia Q
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 6:47 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >What is the value of a all pung hand

    It depends, Patty. Which mah-jongg scoring system are you using? Hong Kong? MCR? Japanese? Taiwanese? Wright-Patterson? If you don't know which mah-jongg variant you're playing, FAQ 2B can help you identify it. After you tell me which system you play, I can tell you what an All Pung hand scores. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 12, 2019 7:50 AM


    She threw the joker on the table

    >From: Candace R
    >Sent: Monday, February 11, 2019 7:32 PM
    >Subject: Mahjong joker exchange
    >Tom,
    >I was playing in a tournament last week. I asked the player across from me to exchange my tile for her joker. She threw the joker on the table which made it dead. What happens next? Is her whole hand dead then because she only had 12 tiles?I know I can’t take it as it is dead. What should we have done?
    >Candy R

    Hi, Candy. Wow, that lady has a temper! I'll tell you what I would have done. I would have stood up and waved the tournament judge to my table, and I would have asked her or him for a ruling.
    Although it's technically true that putting the tile on the discard floor kills the tile, maybe the judge would allow the exchange. When you are at a tournament, the judge (the tournament organizer or his/her designated official) is the arbiter of all disputes. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 12, 2019 7:55 AM


    That collector's website

    >From: CG Shaffer <comgensupreme
    >Sent: Sunday, February 10, 2019 3:50 PM
    >Subject: Question about a avid MJ collector who disappeared
    >Hi Tom,
    >You seem to be the wizard of all things MJ so thought I'd send this question to you since I have no one else to ask that I believe would have the answer.
    >When I first started playing about 9 years ago I ran across a website of a man who apparently was well known and respected in the area of MJ but he had “simply disappeared from the web and no one knew what happened to him - there was chatter about the mystery of why, etc. I was able to find his website where he had listed sets for sale (although he was no longer managing it). He gave a great amount of detail on the sets he was selling -- history, age, etc. and many of them were already sold. At the time, I noted some of this information down but have managed to lose it during the ensuing years. My questions are:
    >1. Do you know who I am talking about with the sketchy information I have provided?
    >2. Is his website still live and if so, do you have a url or other contact information?
    >3. Is there anyone besides Charlie’s web site that has lots of sets with information on maker, etc. -- her site is very difficult to maneuver and not sure its operating correctly anymore - at least it wasn’t the last time I was there.
    >Any help you may be able to provide will be appreciated. If not, then thanks for your time anyway.
    >CG Shaffer

    Hello, CG. "Wizard," hmm? Thanks!

    Yes. You're talking about Jim May.

    Yes. I believe he sold all the sets. Then he sold the site. You can find a link to it in FAQ 4-A.

    Take a look at some of the other links in FAQ 4-A. Don't ignore Michael Stanwick's site. Worth exploring (depending on what kind of information you're seeking). May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 10, 2019 6:30 PM


    My flower tiles, part 2

    >From: Clive F
    >Sent: Friday, February 8, 2019 9:23 AM
    >Subject: RE: identify tiles
    >Hi Tom I was asking what is shown on the tiles are they vegatables ? if so which ones ? , and may the tiles be with you

    Hi, Clive.
    Your tiles do indeed look like vegetables and/or fruits. I have no idea which ones. I presume they would be foods that are normally associated with the seasons (the Spring one being a food often eaten in spring, and so on). But I may be thinking too much into 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
    February 8, 2019 4:40 PM


    My flower tiles baffle me

    >From: Clive F
    >Sent: Friday, February 8, 2019 2:47 AM
    >Subject: identify tiles
    >Hi, I have been given a mahjong set but these flower tiles baffle me can you help ?
    >Thanks Clive

    Clive, I need a specific question. So that I don't spend time answering every possible question you might have about your flowers in the hope that one of them answers the question you have, please tell me exactly what baffles you. And please look at the flowers in FAQ 7E-F, see if you can find unbafflement there. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 8, 2019 7:00 AM


    Pickin' and flippin'

    >From: Adrienne G
    >Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 10:02 PM
    >Subject: racking a tile
    >Hi,
    >I read your columns about racking a tile after picking from the wall. From what I understand, the window of opportunity to call a discarded tile closes as soon as the next picked tile is racked, discarded, or Mah Jongg is declared. There is a lot of discussion about racking speed; however, I didn't see a question about a player who picks from the wall, looks the tile quickly, and then flips over the tile almost immediately after picking. This seems to happen often toward the end of games when players are looking for particular tiles. "Picking and flipping" shortens the window of opportunity even more so than quickly racking a tile, so I'm wondering if there is etiquette concerning "picking and flipping."
    >Adrienne

    Hi, Adrienne.
    I firmly believe that the best thing is for each player to pause a beat before picking from the wall. That gives a reasonably engaged player a sufficient 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 Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 7, 2019, Bedtime


    Conflicting claim snafu

    >From: Maureen S
    >Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 2:30 PM
    >Subject: [No Subject]
    >1st player discards tile, players 2 & 3 call it. #2 asks #3 if it gives her MJ and she says no so #2 takes tile and racks it. Then #3 says she can take it for MJ. Who gets tile?

    Hi, Maureen. Player #3 screwed up. First she said no, the tile doesn't give her mah-jongg. Then, she let the other player rack it before saying yes, the tile does give her mah-jongg after all. She gave the tile to player 2. And now everybody knows what player 3 needs. She shouldn't have done what she did. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 7, 2019


    More mystery flowers, part 4

    >From: Robert G
    >Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 10:54 AM
    >Subject: Re: More mystery flowers
    >Very interesting, Tom. Wikipedia has more on the Ode to Red Cliff. Thanks for your help.
    >Bob G.

    >On Thu, Feb 7, 2019 at 11:58 AM Tom Sloper wrote:
    >Ray just posted a followup.

    >From: Robert G
    >Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 11:09 AM
    >Subject: Re: More mystery flowers
    >Perfect. Thanks again, and thanks to Ray.

    >From: Robert G
    >Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 11:30 AM
    >Subject: Re: More mystery flowers
    >Yes, I was reading "Mah Jongg - The Art of the Game." But, now, I've just ordered your book.
    >Bob

    Very cool!


    More mystery flowers, part 3

    >From: heaton.ray
    >Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 10:20 AM
    >Subject: Re: New flowers mystery
    >Hi Tom,
    >Ode to the Red Cliff is a very famous piece of Chinese writing, it dates from the 11th century and was written by Su Shi, noted poet and calligrapher of the Northern Song period. The ode has been translated many times; here's an extract from one translation that includes the two phrases on the tiles...
    >"...All things between heaven and earth have their rightful owner. If something does not belong to you, then you shall own not even a part of it.
    >Only the cool breeze on the river and the bright moon among the mountains are an exception. If you can hear it, it is a sound to you; if you can see it, it is a view to you.
    >It never ends and is never exhausted. It is the infinite treasure granted to us by our Creator for both of us to enjoy...”
    >Ray

    Thank you, Ray. That's lovely.
    Tom


    More mystery flowers, part 2

    >From: "heaton.ray"
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 10:31 PM
    >Subject: Re: New flowers mystery
    >Hi Tom,
    >The second row that you at a bit of trouble with are 山间明月, "Bright Moon among (or between) the mountains", a line from Ode to the Red Cliff if I recall correctly.
    >Regards,

    >Ray
    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 12:30 AM
    >Subject: Re: New flowers mystery
    >...and apologies for my poor English in my previous email, I have Brexititis which is progressively impacting my abilities!!
    >Best wishes,
    >Ray

    I hear you, Ray. Brexit is concerning for sure. I sympathize, since I've had Trumpitis for 2 years. Trying not to let it get the best of me (feeling better this year than last year). Thanks for the translation. "Ode to the Red Cliff," hmm? Very literary! May the tiles be with you, Ray.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 7, 2019 7:30 AM


    More mystery flowers

    >From: Robert G
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 12:07 PM
    >Subject: More mystery flowers
    >Hi Tom,
    >An elderly neighbor asked me to take a look at his wife's grandmother's Mah Jongg set. It's clearly from the early 20's based on your excellent descriptions on your website. However there are a couple things you might find interesting. The Craks have the ornate Chinese characters on them rather than the simplified characters. I know you indicate in your Q&As that not all the old sets use simplified characters, but of my dozen or so antique sets, this is the first time I've seen them. Also, the flower tiles are quite unique. Any suggestions about their meaning would be appreciated. Thanks.
    >Bob G
    >Scottsdale, AZ


    Right-click to view or download the pic on the left

    Hi, Bob!
    Wow, that's a nice set, nice case - and the condition looks good in the photo. And I see you were checking it against a book. Is that "Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game"?
    I guess you were saying this is the first time you'd seen the fancier craks. I see that this set has the fluted bamboo sticks (a thing that was done by master carvers as opposed to the run-of-the-mill carvers). And the fact that the set is in an ornately decorated case jibes. It was intended to be a more expensive set, and this is the type of set one might see the fancier crak ("wan" or "ten thousand") design.
    As for reading the Chinese, that's not my strong suit. But you made a mistake in arranging them. Notice how they all have red Arabic numerals, but half of them have green Chinese characters and the other half has blue Chinese characters. So the green ones form a phrase, and the blue ones form a phrase. They're supposed to be read like this (not sure if green goes before or after blue):


    You can right-click that to view or download larger than 400 pixels wide. Comparing this, then, with some of the mystery flowers in FAQ 7E-F, we can identify some of them. In FAQ 7E-F, search for the string "How old and how much, part 2" and you'll find Ray's translation of your blue-character flowers: "a clear wind above the river." Your green ones say "mountain something something moon." Maybe my friend Ray Heaton will see this and tell us what the two in the middle mean! Or maybe they appear in other flowers in the 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
    February 6, 2019 12:40 PM


    Can I use dragons in Consec. #5?

    >From: Cindi G
    >Sent: Monday, February 4, 2019 2:55 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Sent from Mail for Windows 10
    >Hi my question is regarding FF consecutive run 3 mixed suits.. can one of those numbers be 4 dragon as the third suit?
    >Thank you

    Hi, Cindy!
    Okay, you're asking about Consec #5, the 3-suit version, on the 2018 NMJL card. You're asking if you can substitute a dragon for a suit tile? That'd be no. Are you asking if you can use zero in a consecutive run hand? That'd be FAQ 19-BH. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 4, 2019 8:25 PM


    Are you familiar with Berrie Bloem's program?

    >From: Carolyn
    >Sent: Sunday, February 3, 2019 3:07 PM
    >Subject: Berrie Bloem
    >2/3/2019
    >Tom,
    >Just found your very informative and accurate website!
    >I played Berrie Bloem's computer Mah jongg MANY years ago and I liked all the voices in the game announcing each discard and Pung, chow, etc.
    >It was an exceptional game!
    >Are you familiar with his program?
    >Thank you.
    >Carolyn in Iowa, USA

    Yes, Carolyn, I played his game in the 1990s. I was a video game designer/producer. I was working on mah-jongg games. I played every other mah-jongg game I could find (I checked out the competition). So, yes, I'm familiar with it to that extent. I have a link to his website in my FAQ 5. I just checked just now, and I see that his website is still online. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 3, 2019 5:15 PM


    Thanks for your help.

    >From: "service@paypal.
    >Sent: Sunday, February 3, 2019 1:50 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Rochelle R
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$5.00 USD from Rochelle R
    >Total amount: $5.00 USD
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Rochelle Renaud
    >Message: Thanks for your help. Rochelle

    Thank you, Rochelle! May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 3, 2019 7:30 PM


    Joker viability in a dead hand, part 7

    >From: Rochelle R
    >Sent: Sunday, February 3, 2019 4:05 AM
    >Subject: Once dead
    >Situation-One player is “dead”-by exposing a concealed hand
    >Can another player exchange a joker for one if the “dead” man’s tiles?
    >Rochelle

    Hi, Rochelle!
    The title given to your question is "Joker viability in a dead hand, part 7" because this is the 7th email in an ongoing discussion about this very question. Long answer short: "it depends." The player who exposed a concealed hand - did he or she expose it in a declaration of Mah Jongg? Or did she or he just make two exposures that unambiguously showed that s/he was working on an exposed hand? In the case of the former, the written rule is that all her/his tiles must be returned to the sloping front of the rack. The rule (on page 16 of the official rulebook) says (underline added by me):

      Please note that a concealed hand that has been incorrectly exposed for a declaration of Mah Jongg must be returned to the rack, the errant declarer stops picking and discarding and nothing can be redeemed from the concealed hand.

    Because it says "for a declaration of Mah Jongg," this rule excludes any instances that do not involve a declaration of Mah Jongg. So if your player exposed two sets (both made from discards) and the two sets unambiguously show that the hand is one that's marked C on the card, then the rule I explained in FAQ 19-P should hold sway. The first exposure may have been ambiguous (the exposed set does not clearly indicate it's a concealed hand) so it may remain atop the rack, including any jokers it may contain. This is based on the League's ruling printed in 2007:

      YES... Jokers may be redeemed from any and all exposures that were made BEFORE the error. (Before the hand went "dead"). Once a hand is declared "dead", any Jokers that were exposed with that declaration cannot be redeemed.

    So, Rochelle - which situation applied to your situation? If the player declared mah-jongg, all her tiles have to go back to the sloping front of the rack, and may not be redeemed. If not, then only the second (unambiguous) exposure is returned, and the first exposure may remain. At least, that's the way I see it, until and unless the League clarifies otherwise.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 3, 2019 7:15 AM


    What are my tiles made of?

    From: Normandy K
    Sent: Saturday, February 2, 2019 2:55 PM
    Subject: Help with tile ID
    Love your web sight ❤️ I recently inherited this set with wood racks. Tiles look more like glass to me. There are hairline cracks on two and when I dropped one it broke off as shown. Thank you for your help Normandy K
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Normandy!
    I suppose they might be ceramic. Tiles with those designs are usually a porcelain-like plastic, such as polystyrene (see FAQ 7-C3) but I've never seen a plastic tile cleave like that. And I've never seen those tiles made of anything but plastic. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Groundhog Day, 2019


    How does seat rotation work, part 2

    >From: Diane K
    >Sent: Saturday, February 2, 2019 10:21 AM
    >Subject: Mahj Beginner Question
    >After you complete a round of Mahj, is the next East sitting to the right or the left of the original East? Thank you. Diane K

    Hi, Diane!
    If you're asking about seat rotation in American (NMJL) mah-jongg, as I told Maxine on Thursday, seat rotation is described in detail in FAQ 19-BB.
    May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Groundhog Day, 2019


    Need blank tiles

    >From: Terilyn Schmuker <imbuddhist2 at aol.com>
    >Sent: Saturday, February 2, 2019 7:48 AM
    >Subject: Tiles Wanted
    >I am trying to make an American set out of my Chinese set and I believe all I need is the 8 jokers. Do you know of anyone selling maybe some blank tiles with the maroon bake and this size?
    >Material: I believe it is a bakelite material
    >Color(s): Maroon and white
    >Dimensions: 1”2cm
    >Tile(s) wanted: 8 jokers or blank tiles
    >URL (internet address) of online photos:

    Hi, Terilyn! Read FAQ 7-Q. And they're not Bakelite; see FAQ 7-C3. May the tiles be with you. Literally!

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Groundhog Day, 2019


    If you need either of 2 different tiles and you pass up one, can you call a win on the other in the same go-around?

    >From: Jonahton C
    >Sent: Friday, February 1, 2019 6:54 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If you are calling for a mahjong and you need a 2 stick or a green dragon, and one player before you tosses out a 2 stick and you pass on it but someone else tosses out a green dragon before it comes back to your draw, can you take it and win? We know that if you're drawing for a 2 or 5 to win with a chow and you pass on a 2, you can't take a 5 if someone else tosses it before the draw comes back to you. So in the same turn, if someone tosses a 2 and you don't take, you can't take the 5 either. Unless I'm wrong.
    >I know the green dragon gives you an extra point so maybe you can pass on the 2 stick and call a dragon instead in the same turn. But same scenario when calling for an east or south when going all pongs and neither is your wind so if you pass a east, can you take a south in the same turn if someone tosses it?

    Hi, Jonahton!
    You didn't say what mah-jongg scoring system you're using. Is it Japanese? In Japanese riichi/dora majan, you may not (as you said) pass up a 2 and then on the same go-around call a 5 (assuming you are waiting to win on a 3-4 incomplete chi). I see what you're saying, that it seems a similar thing with a suit tile and a dragon, if your hand is complete except you have a pair of 2-bam (stick) and a pair of G, and you get higher score for the G.

    The principle in play here is "don't mislead your opponents into thinking you're safe to throw to." In Japanese majan, the discards are orderly, and a player can point to your opposite (or lower) player's most recent discard and say "see, since you passed on that 2B, any reasonably intelligent opponent will assume it's safe to throw 5B." That's the 1-4-7 rule. But can the same argument be made in regards to 2B and G (pairs instead of an incomplete chi)? I don't think so. How could anybody know what your two pairs are? [Edit, next day:] But your best bet is to discuss with the other players now (now that an event has occurred to raise the question), find out what rule they would use in a future occurrence.

    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
    February 1, 2019


    Her tiles are not viewer-friendly

    >From: Kathleen B
    >Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2019 9:12 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: we have someone in our group who declares mahjongg and then puts it on the rack in the wrong order with a few tiles upside down. When I asked to put them in order, she said, "I don't have to". Said there's no such rule. Should be courtesy, I believe. Drama!

    Too much drama, mama! There are rules, then there is strategy, then there is etiquette. It's nice when all three work together in harmony. Yes, showing all tiles same-way-up is not a rule. Yes, it's courteous to show them all same-way-up. I'm guilty of non-viewer-friendly exposures myself (a bad habit I picked up in Japan and China). May the tiles be with you!

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 31, 2019 9:20 PM


    How does seat rotation work?

    >From: Maxine S
    >Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2019 7:12 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When playing with 4 players, what's the rule for changing positions at the table? I have seen East move around the table, but not sure how this works.
    >Thanks!

    Hi, Maxine!
    Seat rotation is described in detail in FAQ 19-BB.
    May the tiles be with you!

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 31, 2019 9:20 PM


    Joker viability in a dead hand, part 6

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2019 5:49 AM
    >Subject: Joker viability (Jan 10 discussion)
    >Hi Tom,
    >Any response from the League yet on this ruling under discussion? How long does it usually take to get a reply?
    >Thanks, Linda

    Good morning, Linda.
    No, I haven't received a reply. I don't like being a nag, and I imagine this is a very busy season at the NMJL office. The question under discussion is one about a fine distinction between seemingly similar circumstances, and the League's practice regarding rules has usually been to state general rules, from which specific rules could be inferred. Also, in order to be as specific as I could, I may have stated my question with so many words as to make it discouraging to read, while there are intense preparations going on for mass-mailing a new card 7-8 weeks hence. If I were to try again to follow up on it, I would probably deem it necessary to go back through twenty years' worth of newsletters to find the previous written answers to the question of joker viability in a dead hand. Going through so many newsletter answers is hard work - I have to read every question to see if it has bearing on the question. When I find an applicable one, the wording always differs, and nuances have to be analyzed. I did that work before, but I don't have a record of all the findings - all I have is the wording I put into FAQ 19-P as a result of it. I was satisfied that I had the rule sussed completely, until the new wording put that understanding into question. Having worked with the World Mahjong Organization in clarifying the wording in the Mahjong Competition Rules, I found that a contributor shouldn't be surprised to encounter unanswered questions and dead ends. I still had questions when the MCR green book was released, and those questions never were answered to my satisfaction. I have let go of those, and I have let go of this question, too. For now.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 31, 2019


    How about that bird?

    >From: Lynne R
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2019 4:33 PM
    >Subject: Bamboo Bird Sorry, forgot to ask you about the bird. What kind is it and can you tell what part of China it is from. Thanks so much


    Sorry, Lynne. I don't know offhand. You might find an answer on Michael Stanwick's website, The Mahjong Tile Set - https://www.themahjongtileset.co.uk/. He's shared a lot of his expertise on set origins there. Oh - and your case may be of more modern origin. Hard to tell. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 30, 2019


    How old is it?

    >From: Lynne R
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2019 11:31 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I Would like to know how old set is. History: came from Russia in the early 1940's. The lady who owned it migrated to here, Astoria Oregon.
    >The set was given or bought in 1944 to a lady in Astoria. She had it until her death 10 years ago. Her son had it then, he remembers the lady from Russia. He has just given it to me. I am curious to the age, told it is from the 1920's.
    >Thank You

    You were told right, Lynne! It's from the twenties. See column 610. Your case is a little different (or maybe just the front cover and the drawer pulls), but everything else is just like we usually see in 1920s sets.

    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
    January 30, 2019


    What is a "single"? (NEWS, part 16)

    >From: Doug L
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2019 8:12 AM
    >Subject: MJ rule question
    >Tom;
    >I know that you cannot use jokers for singles and pairs or even to pick a discard for these. However, I’m a bit confused on what a “single” is. Can you clarify this?
    >Also, I believe you can’t use jokers for NEWS and 2018. Since these are defined sets, can you pick a discard for either of these?
    >Thanks
    >Doug

    Hi, Doug.
    A "single" is a tile that does not have an identical twin with it. In NEWS, no wind has an identical twin with it. So NEWS is not a kong. It is also not really a "set," but it is instead four singles mooshed together, which is why you can never use a joker in NEWS and concomitantly, why you cannot take a discarded wind to expose a NEWS (except for mah-jongg).


    For more about 2018/NEWS, FAQ 16 answers questions about the NMJL card - and FAQ 19 answers questions about NMJL rules. You can link to the FAQs above left. There's a lot of info on the FAQ 19 page, but you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords.
    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
    January 30, 2018


    Column #712

    >From: Donna M
    >Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2019 8:38 AM
    >Subject: Dec. 30 column
    >Hi Tom,
    >I went to your site to copy the link to send to a friend who teaches and
    >wanted it for her students.
    >Your Dec. 30 column caught my eye. I do remember reading this in the
    >bulletin. However, your column brought to mind something for me.
    >Doesn't one technically have to say "call", take the tile from the
    >table, put it on top of the rack and then add the additional tiles from
    >one's hand? I say this because I believe one's turn begins when you
    >pick a tile either from the wall or the table. Thought I remembered
    >reading this on your site but spent the last 15 minutes looking and
    >couldn't find it.
    >Thanks for all you do for Mah Jongg. Keep up to good work!
    >Donna

    Hi Donna, you wrote:

    Doesn't one technically have to say "call", take the tile from the
    >table, put it on top of the rack and then add the additional tiles from
    >one's hand?
    The rulebook says,

      To claim a discard the player must verbalize their call by letting the other players know that they are claiming that discard. They may say "call," "take," "I want that," etc. The claimant must then expose on the rack the Pung, Kong, Quint or Sextet which has been completed by the discarded tile.

    And it says, farther down the page:

      When an exposure is called, the Pung, Kong, Quint or Sextet is placed on the top of the rack in front of the player for all to see.

    I say this because I believe one's turn begins when you
    >pick a tile either from the wall or the table.
    If the player at my left has discarded and I'm just sitting there doing nothing, people are going to yell "it's your turn" at me, and rightly so. But if somebody else claims the live discard before I do anything, it's not my turn anymore.

    I'm sorry if I'm missing the point.
    May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 27, 2019 1:30 PM


    Donation

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Saturday, January 26, 2019 9:05 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Jean S
    > paypal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$100.00 USD from Jean S.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $100.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Jean S
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Wow, thank you, Jean! May the tiles be with you!

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 27, 2019 8:25 AM


    What do you call a 3-person game? (part 2)

    >From: Pam R
    >Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2019 9:19 AM
    >Subject: Re: 3 person play
    >Thanks!


    What do you call a 3-person game?

    >From: Pam R
    >Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2019 6:34 AM
    >Subject: 3 person play
    >Hi Tom,
    >What do you call a 3-person game?
    >Pam

    Hi, Pam.
    If I join a game with only 2 other players, we say we're playing "3 players." I might also say we play "the 3-player game." If this doesn't answer the question you're asking, I'm still here for a follow-up question. You could look at FAQ 13-A for details on 3-player play under American/NMJL rules, if that helps. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 24, 2019 7:30 AM


    "Paying double" vs. "Bonus" (part 3) 

    >From: Frank C
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 4:01 PM
    >Subject: bonus points ?
    >In American in a 25point value hand a player tsubongs with a jokerless hand, what are the total bonus points ?
    > Thank you,
    > Frank C

    Hi, Frank!
    How about I just explain this way:

  • The hand is worth 25 cents.
  • Now if the hand is jokerless, you double that, now it's 50 cents.
  • If won by self-pick, double again - all players pay a dollar.
  • If won by discard, discarder pays a dollar, others pay 50.

    25 x 2 = 50 x 2 = 100

    Peggy G also asked about doubles versus bonuses on November 29, below. You might find that exchange useful, and you can find a fuller explanation in FAQ 19. And I have to ask. What language is "tsubongs" from? Southeast Asia somewhere? May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 23, 2019 8:30 PM


    When someone calls double mahj, part 2

    >From: Stacey E
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2019 1:47 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thanks so much!
    >Randy

    Happy to help! May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 22, 2019 2:00 PM


    Your heading bars are too big, part 2

    >From: Becky U
    >Sent: Monday, January 21, 2019 11:49 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mahjong
    >I see your respone. Wow. that was quick! But, actually I am on a laptop. I found it is more comfortable to use the mobile option even on my laptop.

    You're pretty fast yourself, Becky! I just posted an edit below - I found that indeed the heading frame WAS too big. If you see any others like that, let me know and I'll fix those too!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom - 12:00 noon on Martin Luther King Jr. Day


    Your heading bars are too big

    >From: Becky U
    >Sent: Monday, January 21, 2019 10:03 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong
    >Thank you for your website detailing the rules for mahjong! I am looking forward to learning and playing with my family.

    >I just have one minor comment.
    >The heading bar on some of your pages (FAQ10 for example) takes up a lot of space and doesn't leave adequate room for the page content below.

    >~Becky

    Hi, Becky!
    Thanks for contacting me about this. Let me guess. You're on a mobile phone, and you see something like this:


    I'm not an expert at CSS; this website is pretty much just simple HTML. And a lot of the site was created before smartphones arrived (2007). It's built on frames, which are fine for desktop users but not for smartphone users. When I find a problem for smartphone users, I try to fix it without having to spend a lot of time changing the whole site to use challenging technology I haven't learned yet. Instead, I just offer a way to get to the information without those extra navigation frames. FAQ 10, for example, was not yet set up to make it easy for smartphone users to get rid of the nav frames.

    Sorry, I'm saying too many words.

    In response to your email, I have now added this to the top of FAQ 10:

    I need to add that to any FAQs that don't have it, and I also need to add smartphone links to the nav frame at the left, and the master index at sloperama.com/mahjongg/index.html
    Sorry the updates are coming so slowly! Thanks for alerting me to that so I could fix that one.

    EDIT: Oh wait, I found that the header page was indeed too tall. I shortened it. Now I just have to fix too-tall header frames... May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2019 11:30 AM


    When someone calls double mahj in "Siamese" mah-jongg

    >From: Stacey E
    >Sent: Monday, January 21, 2019 9:18 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >In Siamese Mahj jongg, if someone calls a double Mahj Jongg and one of the hands is called as a Mahj Jongg incorrectly, is that hand considered dead?
    >Randy

    Hi, Randy!
    I haven't played Gladys Grad's Siamese Mah Jongg yet, but I looked at http://www.siamesemahjongg.com/print-rules.html and found this:

      13.  A PLAYER HAS 1 MAH JONGG AND 1 DEAD HAND, the game continues by the opponent only - until opponent makes a second Mah Jongg, or all the tiles have been picked.
      (NOTE: In a regular 4-handed NMJL version, the “dead” player has to cease playing, while everyone else continues.  But, think of the other player’s 2 racks in the 2-handed version as 2 individual remaining players.  If one hand is “dead,” there are still players alive.)

    I believe that answers your question? If not, I recommend you get in touch with Gladys, at http://www.siamesemahjongg.com/contact.html. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2019 11:30 AM


    Charleston-stopping strategy

    >From: Rebecca E
    >Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2019 10:56 AM
    >Subject: Question about stopping the passing
    >I have 10 tiles to complete a hand, and do not stop the passing because I still have 3 tiles to pass. But on the first pass in the second round of the Charleston, I am passed the 11th tile I need. Now I only have 2 to pass, but I can't stop the passing and I can't steal/blind pass. Is my only choice to pass a tile that I actually need?
    >Should I actually have stopped the Charleston?
    >Thanks for your advice.
    >Rebecca E

    Hi, Rebecca!
    I have written on stopping the Charleston. See column 494. In column 494, you'll see the phrase "the evil second across." That's what got you. You had exactly three tiles to pass, but in the second left, you got a wanted tile. That's the risk you take when you have this precise situation (it happens, but infrequently). When I've been in that position, I have either stopped the Charleston or risked having a tile coming in - depending on the way I feel about my luck at that time. I can't tell you A or B. All I can tell you is "that's the risk you have to take." So I might risk it if I thought having to pass one of them might not be so bad.

    A few times, a needed tile has come in when I have an evil second across quandary. Want to know what I've done? I don't break up any pairs. If I have a pung already, I'll pass one of those. Sometimes, the player who wound up with that tile threw it out, and then I was able to call for it and get it back. It was like not losing that tile in the first place (except now I have to give information about my hand). Hope this was helpful! May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 20, 2019 3:20 PM


    Can I redeem a joker if I'm playing a concealed hand? (FAQ 19-O)

    >From: Ann T
    >Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2019 2:44 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >IMy mah-jongg question or comment is:when playing a closed hand, may one take a joker from another’s tray.

    Hi, Ann!
    Yes, you may redeem a joker if you're playing a concealed/closed hand. It says so in this year's newsletter from the League. If you don't have the newsletter, I've answered that question in FAQ 19-O. I recommend you bookmark FAQ 19. The most frequently asked questions about use of jokers in American mah-jongg are answered at http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq19.html#jokers. By the way, that long thing in front of each player is a rack. Trays are usually left in the case and are not used in play.
    May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 20, 2019 10:00 AM


    Which of us gets the tile?

    >From: Joye D
    >Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2019 3:14 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >At my turn, the player to my left discarded a tile I wanted to call and then I would exchange a tile I already had with another player’s displayed joker. Those two actions would have given me mahjong. Another player called for the same discarded tile for mahjong. It was my turn and I could have had mahjong by calling the tile and doing the joker exchange. Who had the mahjong—me or the other player? Thank you.

    Hi, Joye!
    You say you were two tiles away from mah-jongg but the other player was one tile away. The other player could win immediately on the discard, but you had to first make a complete exposure from the discard (see FAQ 19-M) and then redeem a joker to win.
    So, when the discard appeared, you could not rightly say "mah-jongg." Rightly, you could only say "I want that" (for exposure of a completed set). She, on the other hand, could rightly say "mah-jongg." She gets the tile. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    1/19/19, 8:20 AM


    I wanted to stop the Charleston, but...

    >From: peggy c
    >Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2019 12:11 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: we are always trying to encourage new players sometimes that means slow play and patience. While playing with a newbie I waited patiently for my first left and declared I wanted to stop the Charleston. Another player stated she had already exchanged and was on her second left hence I could not stop the Charleston. Her rationale was that I needed to pay more attention and was adamant that we were not stopping the Charleston. Is there a rule regarding passing out of turn?

    Hi, Peggy!
    You're saying you were waiting for your first left, but someone else had already picked up her second left? That ain't right. That person needed to pay more attention! The Charleston is a dance that requires all participants to dance in step. When people fall badly out of step, there's a problem. In the case you described, there must be two passes sitting at someone's right (a first left, and a pyramided second left). That ain't right. It's incorrect to pass a second left pass to a corner with a first left pass already sitting there. That person needed to pay more attention, too.

    It's not wrong to say that you, too, should have paid more attention. While you were waiting for the slow player, you should have monitored the Charleston and noticed when a player passed a second left, because once someone picks up a second left, it's too late to stop the Charleston. I assume your group does not verbalize the passes. It's important, in my opinion, that players announce "first left" and "second left" both, to prevent just this sort of thing. Verbalizing the left passes helps everyone pay attention. In the instance you described, it sounds to me like there was a whole lot of inattention going on, and no one person deserves the blame.

    In my opinion, the second left pass must be undone. If it cannot be undone, then all the tiles should be thrown in and the tiles shuffled and redealt. At least, that's how I see it. To get the official ruling, you should snailmail the League (see FAQ 19-BN). May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    1/19/19 8:40 AM


    Verbalizing joker redemption, part 2

    >From: Monica C
    >Sent: Friday, January 18, 2019 3:46 PM
    >Subject: Re: American Mah Jongg Question
    >Thank you so very much!!!

    You're welcome, Monica!


    Any Like Numbers #3 (2018 NMJL)

    >From: Karen L
    >Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2019 3:59 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When playing the like numbers and dragons hand, we understand there must be 3 different suits. The question is should the dragons match the suit in each set?
    >Thanks,
    >Karen L

    Hi, Karen! You're talking about Any Like Numbers #3:

      11 DD 111 DDD 1111 (Any 3 Suits)

    There are two pairs (shown in the same color), two pungs (shown in a different color, both of them the same color as one another), and a kong (shown in the third color). It says on the back of the card that 3 colors means 3 suits. This color-coded line item on the front of the card shows you how to apportion the 3 suits for this hand. The two pairs must be the same suit, since they are the same color on the card. Let's call that "suit # one." It can be any suit. Dots/Soap, Craks/Red, or Bams/Green. The two pungs must be a suit you haven't used for the pairs, both of them the same suit since they're the same color on the card. The kong can be whatever suit you haven't used for the pairs and the pungs.
    I think the answer to your question is "yes," but I'm not sure I've answered the question you were asking. If you want to read how to interpret the color-coding on the card, you can read FAQ 19-BY. In fact, I have a whole collection of Frequently Asked Questions about how to interpret a generic NMJL card at http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq19.html#thecard, and I've answered the most Frequently Asked Questions about the 2018 NMJL card in FAQ 16. Feel free to bookmark them so you can come back and read anytime.
    May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 17, 2019 6:00 PM


    Verbalizing joker redemption

    >From: Monica C
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2019 8:37 PM
    >Subject: American Mah Jongg Question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thank you for your column.
    >My question is when you exchange for your own Joker, is there a NMJL rule that says you need to verbalize the exchange? I cannot find one.
    >Is it just courteous to verbalize, but not required?
    >Or is it strategy not to verbalize, as to not call attention to the fact that you are now one tile closer to Mah Jongg.
    >There has been lots of debate with the folks I play with. One person I play with claims that it was in a previous bulletin that you should NOT verbalize when exchanging your own exposed Joker.
    >Thanks so much.
    >Best regards,
    >Monica C

    Good morning, Monica! To foster harmony in your game, I recommend saying something when redeeming your own joker. To respond point by point to your email:

    is there a NMJL rule that says you need to verbalize the exchange? I cannot find one.
    I can't find one, either. We should also consider harmony, and (as you noted) strategy and etiquette.

    Is it ... courteous to verbalize,
    Yes. Very courteous. And respectful.

    is it strategy not to verbalize, as to not call attention to the fact that you are now one tile closer to Mah Jongg.
    There are nasty strategies and courteous strategies. This is not a nice strategy. I think nice is nice. I like nice!

    One person I play with claims that it was in a previous bulletin that you should NOT verbalize when exchanging your own exposed Joker.
    If she could tell me which newsletter to find that in, I would be delighted to confirm. (Note: I am not going to go through all my bulletins from 1997 to 2019 again, trying to find something that I do not remember reading and that I doubt exists.)

    Here's what I do: when I am redeeming a joker atop my own rack, I say something, usually just "aha!" May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 17, 2019 7:45 AM


    Is she dead?

    >From: Perla
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 8:59 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player calls mahjongg, exposes her hand and discards one tile. Looking at her 13 tiles, she realized the hand still needed a 3 Bam for the 14th tile. Is her hand dead? What becomes of her tiles including the jokers? Do they remain exposed? Do they all go back on the slope? Can the other players exchange her jokers?
    >Thank you,
    > Perla C

    Hello, Perla! You wrote:

    A player calls mahjongg, exposes her hand and discards one tile.
    Doh! Call her dead. She only has 13 tiles now.

    Is her hand dead?
    Yes indeedy!

    What becomes of her tiles including the jokers? Do they remain exposed? Do they all go back on the slope? Can the other players exchange her jokers?
    "Can I redeem a joker from a dead player's rack" is FAQ 19-P. The erroneously exposed tiles all go back to the sloping front of her rack, and she stops playing. Please bookmark FAQ 19.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 15, 2019 10:25 PM (past my bedtime!)


    A discard was misnamed, causing a problem. What now? (FAQ 19-AY)
    Joker viability in a dead hand, part 5

    >From: D N
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 8:32 PM
    >Subject: Yet, another question
    >Tom - a question in regard to the recent NMJL bulletin, and the question below [From column 713]:

        Q: Is there a penalty for throwing a miscalled tile?
        A: If the miscalled tile is called causing an invalid exposure, the calling player hand is "dead" and there is no penalty for the discarder of the incorrectly named tile. If the incorrectly named tile is claimed for Mah Jongg, the game stops and the miscaller pays the claimant 4 times the value of the hand; others do not pay. Remember, a tile may never be called unless correctly named.

      The word "call" means speaking a request for a live discard. "Miscall," though, refers to the act of wrongly speaking a tile's name when discarding it. I wish "miscall" could be recalled and we could all say "misname" instead. As per my rant in Column 353.


    >When NOT playing for $$, would those playing just stop the game right then and there if a incorrectly named tile is claimed for MJ?
    >As for the misnamed tile being called for, if the player who calls and picks up the discarded tile and realizes it's NOT the tile the player named can she put it back down? Or if she picks it's up and places it on the top of her rack and realizes it's not the tile she needs, but hasn't exposed the tiles on the sloped part of her rack, can she put the misnamed tile back? I ask because, sometimes it's hard on some of these tiles to differentiate between a 6 and an 8, or a 5 and 3, and yet, sometimes, bad eyesight or lighting comes in to play.
    >Still no reply from the league about the viability question I guess.
    >Thanks Tom
    >Debbie

    Hi, Debbie! Your questions:

    When NOT playing for $$, would those playing just stop the game right then and there if a incorrectly named tile is claimed for MJ?
    What happens when a misnamed tile is called for mah-jongg is spelled out in FAQ 19-AY. The only difference between a money game and a no-money game is money. The same rules apply either way. The hand is over. Throw in the tiles, deal, and play the next hand.

    if the player who calls and picks up the discarded tile and realizes it's NOT the tile the player named can she put it back down?
    The "change of heart" questions (the "oops, I didn't mean to do that" questions) are all answered in FAQ 19-AM. A player can pick up a discard and then change her mind about taking it.

    Or if she picks it's up and places it on the top of her rack
    FAQ 19-AM. The tile is on top of her rack. She cannot undo this action. As I wrote to Enid last Thursday (below), "In general: words do not commit you to a move, but actions do."

    I ask because, sometimes it's hard on some of these tiles to differentiate between a 6 and an 8, or a 5 and 3, and yet, sometimes, bad eyesight or lighting comes in to play.
    Ask the hostess to light up the table more brightly. Play with your good glasses on. And learn how to recognize the tiles without having to strain to see the tiny corner indices.

    Still no reply from the league about the viability question I guess.
    It's a busy time at the League office, I reckon.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 15, 2019 10:25 PM (past my bedtime!)


    On the back of the card, it says...

    >From: Jean N
    >Sent: Monday, January 14, 2019 4:51 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >On the back of the card, it says
    >Any tile, except a joker,may be called for Mah Jongg.
    >Does this mean that if I need one more tile,(not for a pair or single)
    >The joker has to be discarded?
    >Jean

    Hi, Jean!
    It means if somebody else discards a joker, you cannot have the joker. That rule is also stated elsewhere, so it's just clarifying that the "you can never have a discarded joker" rule still applies even if it's for mah-jongg. Read FAQ 19-G.
    [Added next morning:] It also means that if you are waiting to complete a pair, or if you need a single tile, and someone discards your needed tile, you can claim it and win. See how the card continues, saying "This includes all hands, including Concealed and Singles and Pairs hands."]
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 14, 2019 9:40 PM


    Table talk

    >From: Peggy G
    >Sent: Monday, January 14, 2019 5:50 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Regarding "table talk." Are there any rules regarding table talk or is it a matter of etiquette? Today, very early in the game, I was close to calling Mah Jongg and discarded a joker. Another player announced to the table: "Don't throw any flowers!" Since that is exactly what I needed I was pretty upset and commented "no table talk." Then player in question just laughed. Is there a rule that governs this situation and how should it be handled? Thank you, Peggy G
    >Carmel, Ca

    Hi, Peggy!
    Unfortunately, etiquette is not covered in the rules. There's no rule about how to handle a player who thinks it's smart to be nasty. Nastiness is not classy; this kind of behavior can lead to vindictiveness and disharmony. FAQ 9 discusses the benefit of harmonious play and good etiquette (i.e. being nice so people will want to play with you again).
    I've written a couple of columns about players who, unconcerned with classiness or etiquette, blurt information harmful to an opponent. You'll appreciate column 467 and column 654. ... Well, #467 isn't exactly about blurting, but blurting is part of it. Anyway, you asked how something like this should be handled. I say "try to be classy." What would a classy person do in response to a boorish act? Especially when harmony is the goal.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 14, 2019 9:55 PM


    Two beginner questions

    >From: Claire A
    >Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2019 10:31 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    >Greetings! I have two beginner-level questions (American Style) that I have been trying to find answers for but can't.
    > Once the wall is broken and we are drawing tiles from the left of the break in a clockwise manner, do we continue drawing from wall to the right of the break (the number of stacks we counted over after rolling the die) when we get back around to that point?
    >Whose turn is it after someone claims a discarded tile then discards? Is it the person who WOULD HAVE gone next without the interruption? Or is it the person after the player who picked up the discarded tile?
    >Thank you!
    >Grace and peace in Christ,
    >Claire T. A (she/her/hers)
    >- Final-Year Masters of Divinity Graduate Student
    > Wartburg Seminary
    >"Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now." -Fred Rogers
    >Sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus.

    Pax vobiscum, Claire. Your two answers:

    Think of the wall as a circle (pretend it isn't a square). The first two tiles that come off the wall are the two tiles to the left of the break. The last two tiles are the two tiles to the right of the break. I hope this image from FAQ 19-Q helps:

    Play continues from the person who made the play. See the official rulebook, "Mah Jong Made Easy," page 14:

      The "call" or "take" has become the claimant's turn and the game then continues to the right of that claimant.



    This is the League's official rulebook. It was revised in 2013, and again in 2018.
    Every table should have an up-to-date copy!
    I'm not paid to say this. Just sayin' it's important to have and read.

    May the tiles be with you! I don't know how to say that in Latin. (~_^)
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 13, 2019


    Consec #5 (FAQ 16)

    >From: Sharon K
    >Sent: Saturday, January 12, 2019 5:08 PM
    >Subject: Re: NMJL Question
    >Dear Tom,
    >On the 2018 card, the 5th hand down (FF 1111 2222 3333) it says "any run". Does it have to be 1-2-3? Or can it be any consecutive run?
    >That is the only line that says "any run".
    >All the other instructions in the CONSECUTIVE RUN section say "any consecutive numbers". I was wondering if I could use for example - 4 5 6. What is the difference between "any run" and "any consecutive Nos"?
    >Why does every line say consecutive numbers but only the 5th Line says any run? What is the difference?
    >Thank you so much.
    >Sharon K

    Hi, Sharon!
    You have asked about Consec #5 on the 2018 card. I'm breaking down your email to two questions. The first: how to interpret a phrase that's missing a word, and the second: why the word is missing...

    it says "any run". Does it have to be 1-2-3? Or can it be any consecutive run? ... I was wondering if I could use for example - 4 5 6. What is the difference between "any run" and "any consecutive Nos"?
    You perceive a difference between the phrase "any run" and "any consecutive run." But those phrases mean the same thing. Last April when I answered questions that I expected to be asked frequently about the 2018 card, I wrote this definition of the word "run" in FAQ 16:

      A is an ascending or descending numerical sequence.

    And in the League's annual newsletter, which we who bought our 2018 cards directly from the League received at the beginning of 2019, the League wrote:

      A "Run" is an ascending or descending numerical sequence.

    The word "consecutive" is implied although not specifically included. Because space on the card is limited, the phrase "any run" and the phrase "any consecutive run" should be considered to be equivalent. The numbers 1-2-3 are shown only as an example, which illustrates that the run should indeed be consecutive. The word "any" means you do not have to use only the numbers 1-2-3. I wrote in FAQ 16:

      The parenthetical is saying you can use any 3 consecutive numbers ...

    So yes, 4-5-6 is one of the other permissible runs. You may make any 3-number consecutive run between 1-2-3 and 7-8-9, inclusive.

    That is the only line that says "any run". ...
    >All the other instructions in the CONSECUTIVE RUN section say "any consecutive numbers".
    >Why does every line say consecutive numbers but only the 5th Line says any run? What is the difference?
    I wrote in FAQ 16:

      ... (there wasn't enough room to say all that).

    Look at the hand - there are two versions, a one-suit version and a three-suit version, shown together on the same line. The only way to make the word "consecutive" fit is to either use teeny tiny text on that line, or add another line, both of which would cause a problem. Between the size of the card and the size of the font, assuming a need for consistent font size, and assuming a need for the font to be no smaller than on previous cards, adding a line would necessitate removal of a hand. The League didn't want that.

    FAQ 16 answers the most frequently asked questions about the NMJL card. There is a listing for Consec #5 in there. After you look at it, if you think FAQ 16 might be useful for you in the future, you might want to bookmark it. Also, I highly recommend buying the card directly from the League so that you receive the yearly newsletter, which always includes rule clarifications (sometimes including clarifications of frequently misunderstood hands on the card). If you find my answer insufficiently clarifying, or if you want to argue the League's practices or complain about how the League writes the card, you can snailmail your questions or comments to the League. Their address is on the card. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 13, 2019

    P.S. A while after writing the above, I revised the wording in FAQ 16. Instead of "numerical sequence," I use the phrase "sequence of consecutive numbers." Just the latest occurrence of what I said on January 10, 2019 2:30 PM about constantly working to improve the clarity of wording on this site. - Tom


    What's your opinion?

    >From: Gwen S <goofynuffy
    >Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2019 5:11 PM
    >Subject: Playing
    >I went to play Mahjong with a new group they pick a tile off the wall , say what it is and then the next 3 players do the same, but then the first player picks up another tile and then turns her first tile over so no one sees it.
    >I could not under stand this play, Only 4 tiles exposed on the table at a time. I said how can you keep track of what has been played , and they said they just try and keep track in their heads
    >They said well this is how they learned on a cruise, but I said I am sure that is not the rule from the American Mahjong League.
    >I would like your opinion on this play please.
    >Thank you
    >Gwen S

    Hello, Gwen!
    I've never heard of this one. With the little that you wrote, I can't picture the play very well. Are you saying that among the discards, no more than 4 tiles are face-up at any given time?

    I have heard of players around the world wanting to make memory a more important part of a game. I have heard of players turning all discards face-down (after first showing the tile to the other players). I have heard of players showing an exposure before turning the exposure face-down for the remainder of the hand. The benefit of such practices accrues to the player(s) with the best short-term memory retention. The fun of such practices eludes me.

    You are aware, are you not, that many groups adopt "table rules" because ... well, because they think it makes the game go faster, or more fun - or because it simplifies things somehow? And some teachers teach table rules to their students, without ever mentioning that the rule differs from the official rules. Sometimes a player is taught a nonstandard way of playing, then teaches it to others without any of them knowing it's a made-up way of playing, undocumented in any of the mah-jongg literature. [Sigh!]

    Anyway. You said you want my opinion. Read FAQ 14.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 10, 20195:40 PM

    Busy day today! This is the 6th mah-jongg email I've gotten this day! I'm starting to detect a pattern. I may get the most emails on Thursdays (I remember thinking that the last time I had a cluster of questions like this). Maybe Wednesday is the most popular day to play, and the questions flow therefrom? - Tom


    Joker viability in a dead hand, part 4

    >From: D N
    >Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2019 4:59 PM
    >Subject: MJ
    >Hey Tom,
    >I see by your post that you already contacted the NMJL regarding the question I sent you about the joker viability in a dead hand. You had suggested I contact the league for their ruling. I guess I'll leave this one in your hands, unless you still suggest I contact them to make sure we get the same answer??
    >Thanks for tackling this question, glad I was able to come up with something new to ponder.
    >Best regards,
    >Debbie N.

    The question was nagging at me, so I took the bull by the horns. We shall see!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 10, 2019 5:10 PM


    Joker viability in a dead hand, part 3

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2019 1:34 PM
    >Subject: FAQ 19P
    >Hey Tom,
    >Thanks for writing to NMJL to clarify this rules question. The rule is ambiguous the way it is worded.
    >Thanks, Linda

    In the League's defense, differing interpretations of a rule's wording are often not immediately obvious to the rule writer. I've been modifying the wording on this site for about 19 years. The new heads of the League have been writing rulings for only about 4 years. They've made numerous much-needed rule clarifications in recent years, and it's really tough to get it right the first time. Heck, look at the errata for my book - I've been revising the wording since 2007! Anyway, we'll see.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 10, 2019 2:30 PM


    Can I change my mind?

    >From: enid e
    >Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2019 1:24 PM
    >Subject:
    >if a player touches the tile but does not move it do they have to keep tile.

    Hi, Enid!
    I'm going to make assumptions, since your question leaves a lot of room for uncertainty.

    First assumption: you're asking about American (National Mah Jongg League) rules (not Japanese, Filipino, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Wright-Patterson, British/Australian...). I've written answers to the most frequently asked questions about American mah-jongg in FAQ 19. There is a section answering different questions about changing your mind there.

    Second assumption: you're asking about either a discarded tile or a wall tile.

    A discard: You can touch or even pick up a discarded tile and then change your mind about taking it, and put it back.

    A wall tile: FAQ 19-AM relates the NMJL rule about "undoing" taking a wall tile: After you've lifted or moved the wall tile, you may not change your mind and put it back. If you lift it or move it, it's yours and you have committed to taking it. In general: words do not commit you to a move, but actions do.

    May the tiles be with you. Oh - and I recommend you bookmark FAQ 19 for future questions. Also, I recommend you buy the NMJL rulebook, "Mah Jongg Made Easy" (see FAQ 3).
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 10, 2019 2:00 PM


    Joker viability in a dead hand, part 2

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2019 7:23 AM
    >Subject: D.N.'s rules question on Jan 8th
    >Hi Tom,
    > If DN writes to the NMJL I hope the answer will be published in this forum. I'm sure your readers would like some clarification!
    >Thanks, Linda

    Hi, Linda!
    I wrote the League to ask about it.

    The rule on page 16 says: "Please note that a concealed hand that has been incorrectly exposed for a declaration of Mah Jongg must be returned to the rack, the errant declarer stops picking and discarding and nothing can be redeemed from the concealed hand." 
    Because it says "for a declaration of Mah Jongg," this rule excludes any instances that do not involve a declaration of Mah Jongg. And a question remains about other errors involving a concealed hand.

      Let's examine a situation: a player made one ambiguous exposure. Nobody can tell yet that she's working on a Concealed hand. Several things can happen next:

      Case 1: the player makes a second exposure, and now it's unambiguous - she's working on a Concealed hand. How many exposures must be returned to the sloping front of the rack? The rule on page 16 does not cover this situation (it only covers a declaration of Mah Jongg). Based on previous rulings from Ruth Unger in past newsletters, only the second exposure must be returned.

      Case 2: the player had one ambiguous exposure and now declares mah jongg, puts up all her tiles, and it can be seen by all that it's a Concealed hand. The rule on page 16 may be intended to cover this situation (but does not say so unambiguously). If the rule on page 16 does cover this situation, then all the tiles must be returned to the sloping front of the rack. It appears to be a change to the existing rule from past newsletters.

      Case 3: a player never makes an exposure until all of a sudden she says "mah jongg," and puts up all her tiles. It's a Concealed hand, but there's a problem with it: it's formed incorrectly (maybe she has a pung and a kong but she's supposed to have a kong and a pung, and the tiles cannot be rearranged to make the correct hand). The rule on page 16 is clear on this: all the tiles must be returned. But the mah jongg in error rules already say that.

    Let's assume that the League now wants both exposures to be returned to the rack when case 1 occurs. Perhaps this wording might make things clear:
    "When it is visible to all that the player is making a concealed hand, all exposures must be returned to the rack, and the errant declarer is dead (see 'Rules and Penalties,' rule 14)."
    I'm suggesting this to the League; we shall see if we can obtain clarity.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 10, 2019


    Naming a discard - and - finding answer needles in this overwhelming haystack of information

    >From: Emily P H
    >Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2019 1:58 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If you announce you are going to discard a tile, and you change your mind, can you keep the tile?
    >If you announce and place the tile down and let go, I realize it is too late.
    >If the tile is still in your hand and your hand is in mid-air, is it too late?
    >If the tile is still in your hand and your hand touches the table but the tile does not touch the table, is it too late?
    >Can you search FAQs without reading every topic?
    >Will you email me the answer, or at least email me to tell me how to find my answer in the FAQs?
    >Thank you very much. Very underlined.
    >Emily H

    Hi, Emily!
    I'm taking your questions out of order:

    Can you search FAQs without reading every topic?
    Absolutely. Since you mentioned naming a discard, I'm going out on a limb and assuming your question is about American (National Mah Jongg League) rules.
    Sloperama.com/mahjongg/index.html (the first landing page when someone comes to the mah-jongg portion of my website) is an index of all the FAQ topics (you can also see an index of all FAQ topics if you scroll up right now and look at the left side of the screen).
    Visually scanning the index of topics, you'll find that FAQ 19 is the place to go, to find answers about American mah-jongg.
    At the top of FAQ 19 there's a complete index of all the most frequently asked questions about American mah-jongg. I use the index myself to find what I wrote there. There's even a How to use this page link right up top, telling you how to find your American mah-jongg answer in FAQ 19. Beneath the "How to use this page" link is a complete, categorized index of the questions, for easy visual scanning.

    If you announce you are going to discard a tile, and you change your mind, can you keep the tile?
    "Changing my mind" is a very prominent category of American mah-jongg question. It's the second category in the index (right after Jokers, which is the #1 category of questions I get). In fact, if you go to FAQ 19, the link to the "change of heart" category is probably visible without scrolling. There are many ways to say "can I change my mind," and I tried to work several of them into the category link. At the moment, it reads UNDO, UNDO! I changed my mind, can I take it back? ("CHANGE OF HEART"). I've tried very hard to make it easy to find.

    To address your question: nobody ever announces "I'm going to discard a tile." She says the tile's name. FAQ 19-AM says that once a discard's name is spoken, it's too late to take it back. Once the tile has touched the table or you have said its name (whichever happens first), it's "down" -- and "down is dead." You can't take it back.

    FAQ 19-A says: A discarded tile is "down" when it touches the table OR is completely named, whichever occurs first.
    FAQ 19-B says: When a tile is "down," it is too late for the discarder to take it back. If you've said its name, you must put it on the tabletop and take your hand off it.
    Just so you know, the source of this rule is the NMJL's rulebook, "Mah Jongg Made Easy." This is rule 7 on page 18.

    If the tile is still in your hand and your hand touches the table but the tile does not touch the table, is it too late?
    Once the tile has touched the table, or you have said its name (whichever happens first), it's "down" -- and "down is dead." You can't take it back.

    Will you email me the answer, or at least email me to tell me how to find my answer in the FAQs?
    The latter. I email you to tell you how to come back to this board so you can find your question and my answer.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 10, 2019


    Joker viability in a dead hand

    >From: D N
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2019 5:56 PM
    >Subject: question
    > Hi Tom,
    >I've read your explanation on the ruling of viable jokers when a hand is called dead. But I don't exactly know in this situation, if a particular joker would still be viable.
    >Player A calls for a 1 bam and exposes 2 natural tiles and 1 joker to make the pung. Play continues. Player A calls for a white dragon and exposes 2 natural tiles and 1 joker to make another pung. Play continues. After about few more turns player B challenges player A and said it's not a viable hand, which player A agrees, saying it was a concealed hand and made the exposures, forgetting it was a concealed hand..
    >My question is, with the 1 bams being exposed first, is the joker in that pung still available to be exchanged for after the hand is declared dead because it wasn't until the pung of dragons was exposed was the hand declared dead? Or, would the joker in the pung of 1 bams not be taken since it was part of a concealed hand which none should have been exposed in the first place.
    >I asked the question and got 2 different answers. One was that the pung of 1 bams, the joker would still be viable. Another was the exposure that makes the hand go dead gets returned to the player's rack. In the case a concealed hand is improperly exposed, all of the tiles go back to the rack. But, this last comment sounds to me, that this is if the concealed hand was improperly exposed for mah jongg, not the same in the case I'm describing.
    >Can you please let me know which ruling it correct, is the 1 joker in the pung of 1 bams able to be exchanged?
    >Thanks Tom!

    Hello, D N!
    The 2018 rulebook covers this on page 16. "Please note that a concealed hand that has been incorrectly exposed for a declaration of Mah Jongg must be returned to the rack, the errant declarer stops picking and discarding and nothing can be redeemed from the concealed hand."
    When I reviewed the 2018 rulebook in column 696, I may have misinterpreted that rule, so I didn't mention it in the column, and I didn't change FAQ 19-P. The quote above mentions "a concealed hand that has been incorrectly exposed for a declaration of Mah Jongg."

  • It's intuitive that a concealed hand has been "incorrectly exposed" if an exposure was made prior to a declaration of mah jongg.
  • But when you add "for a declaration of mah jongg" to the preceding phrase, it makes it sound like the player exposed, all at once, a concealed hand, but there's something else wrong with the hand.

    So when I read it in the 2018 rulebook, I didn't register the notion that it might be saying that when it's a hand marked C on the card, and an exposure had been made prior to the mahj declaration, the hand and the improper exposure must all be returned to the rack. Reexamining the wording now, I think it's likely that this is what it's saying. If that interpretation is confirmed, I'll modify FAQ 19-P to reflect this clarification of the rule.

    I think what I wrote in FAQ 19-P still applies to your situation, in which a second unambiguous exposure (not exposure of the whole hand) shows the hand to be a Concealed hand. The wording on page 16 does not say that both exposures must be returned to the rack in that case. So most likely, your best bet is to snailmail your question to the League for a definitive ruling.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 8, 2019


    I just bought a Dal Negro Mahjong set

    >From: Kristin W
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2019 12:33 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I just bought a Dal Negro Mahjong set. This is my comment.
    >I’m bitterly disappointed with the set.
    >Having read reviews of the Italian craftsman ship of all their product I can’t believe that they made this set, it’s not a Delux set, but still it’s an awful set.
    >The black ink in the engraving runs out and marks all the tile.
    >Some of the circles are completely blacked out with the ink.
    >The letters are all crooked , and not all the same size and paint wearing off.
    >It’s far too lightweight .
    >The racks are not up to standards either as they are too straight up.
    >It will be no pleasure playing with this set.
    >I don’t recommend anyone to buy this set.
    >Regards Kristín Whitehead.

    Hi, Kristín,
    Looks like you're angry, and feeling gypped, and you decided to use my bulletin board to tell the whole world about it. If I was so unhappy with a purchase, I'd return it to the seller and ask for my money back. If I couldn't do that for some reason, I might file a complaint with the website (Amazon, eBay, Etsy...) where I bought the set, maybe file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
    May the tiles no longer be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 8, 2019


    Heirloom set

    >From: Jesse C
    >Sent: Sunday, January 6, 2019 7:28 AM
    >Subject: Heirloom set
    >Hi Tom,
    >My wife and I recently received a charming, antique mahjong set as a gift. It reportedly came from Asia many years ago with a family who was immigrating to North America, and is something of a family heirloom. We’d like to know an approximate age for the set. We couldn’t find much online about about bamboo-backed bakelite sets (or anything that may help identify the additional numbered, non-flower tiles), hence our email. Our observations:
    >The set appears to be hand-carved
    >No brand-mark is visible
    >No instruction book is present
    >Tiles appear to be bakelite with bamboo backing
    >Dice and sticks appear to be bone
    >Thank you for the treasure-trove of information you’ve provided on your site. We look forward to upping our mahjong game using our new set and the instructions you’ve generously provided.
    >Best regards,
    >Jesse & Tabitha

    Hi, Jesse!
    Sorry to dash ice water on your story, but the set is neither an antique nor an heirloom.

  • Heirloom, per Google: "a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations."
  • Antique, per Google: "a collectible object such as a piece of furniture or work of art that has a high value because of its considerable age."

    Your set is neither old enough nor valuable enough to fit either definition. And I also have doubts that this set was treasured by the immigrant family. The set was made for export, not for use in Asia (the clue: the Western indices). It was cheaply made, and was easily replaceable. You said the original owner came from Asia, but you didn't say which country. Chinese mah-jongg players are prone to getting rid of a set once it has been played with and money was lost thereby (superstition puts blame on the tiles) - So the whole origin story is unconvincing. You were told a pretty tale that's largely untrue.

    Yes, it's unusual to see "Chinese bakelite" (the name collectors use for that non-shiny yellow plastic material; see FAQ 7C) backed with bamboo. But the set was cheaply made, with poor craftsmanship (see the gap between the yellow plastic and the bamboo, and see the paint smears). The fact that the cheap case is falling apart doesn't mean the set is generations old. You say the sticks are bone, but I can't confirm that from the tiny photo you sent. The rounded ends on the sticks make them look like plastic to me.

    You said you want help identifying some of your mystery tiles. Take a look at FAQ 7E, and FAQ 7E-F (the mystery flowers FAQ) and FAQ 7E-J (the mystery jokers FAQ). You'll surely find your mystery tiles there. If you're asking about the Singapore-style "animal flowers," you'll find those in FAQ 7E-F.

    As for the set's age, the clues I see are: (1) the style of the case, (2) the so-called "Chinese bakelite," and (3) the Singapore-style "animal flowers." I don't know when "Chinese bakelite" started being used for sets; might be forties (1940s), fifties, sixties. I also don't know when animal flowers started being included in sets. Again, maybe forties, fifties, sixties. From the cheap case, I'm guessing later manufacture: maybe sixties or seventies. Check the online Mahjong Museum website, and CHarli's website, and other such sites listed in FAQ 4A; maybe you'll find information there on the age of "Chinese bakelite" sets, or sets with animal flower tiles.

    The set looks imminently playable, for most mah-jongg variants (just not for American, Japanese, or Vietnamese). Enjoy playing with it.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 6, 2019


    How old are my mystery tiles, part 2

    >From: Linda D
    >Sent: Saturday, January 5, 2019 4:30 PM
    >Subject: Re: My Mah Jong set
    >Thank you for your quick response. I had gathered this was a more recent set and knew the tiles were plastic. Thank you for the confirmation.

    You're welcome, Linda.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 5, 2019


    How old are my mystery tiles?

    >From: Linda D
    >Sent: Saturday, January 5, 2019 1:26 PM
    >Subject: My Mah Jong set
    >I was given this Mah Jong set from my neighbour years ago and was curious as to the year it was made. Also i cannot identify the seasons tiles. Which are the 1-4 x2 located under the 4 direction wind tiles. Also what are the set of 4 tiles above the dragon tile?
    >Attached is a picture
    >Thank you,
    >Linda D

    Hi, Linda! You wrote:

    curious as to the year it was made.
    I don't know, Linda. Maybe the nineties, maybe the 2000s. The case is a style I first saw in the nineties, but your tiles are plastic, not bone and bamboo like the other tiles I've seen in that style case. Maybe twenty years old, give or take a decade.

    Also i cannot identify the seasons tiles. Which are the 1-4 x2 located under the 4 direction wind tiles.
    Your question is unclear; seasons and flowers are the same thing essentially (seasons are just flower tiles with the names of seasons written on them). Also your photo is difficult for me to work with. I think you need to read the "Mystery Flowers" FAQ and identify them yourself. Check out FAQ 7E-F.

    Also what are the set of 4 tiles above the dragon tile?
    Again, your photo is difficult for me to work with. Most people, when they have a mystery tile, they send me a closeup of the mystery tile without everything else included. I had to shrink your image, but even the full-size image was difficult to zoom in far enough. I assume those tiles are Chinese jokers, but they're not in focus. Read FAQ 7E-J, the "Mystery Jokers" FAQ, and see if you can't find your own answer there.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 5, 2019


    Is FAQ 10 included in your book?

    >From: Terry D
    >Sent: Friday, January 4, 2019 3:21 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Does your book,” THE RED DRAGON & THE WEST WIND” contain FAQ 10: "Simplified Mah-Jongg Rules for Beginners" that is on your website? While I wait for your book to arrive may I have permission to copy FAQ 10, so that I might start learning the simplified Chinese version of MJ so we can have the rules at the table as none of us know the rules?
    >I took the survey to figure out what type I am and it basically came out as an “O*” or “AVWO.” I think I need to start simply after looking at the American Mah Jongg rules. It has a lot to take in for a beginner!
    >I played with a girl friend in high school for a short time but have thought about it ever since. We called the tiles Bams, Craks, and Dots which gives me clues after looking through your website. My daughter bought me a set for Christmas.
    >I live in Surprise, Arizona now but lived most of my life outside of St. Louis, Missouri.
    >Thank you.
    >Mrs. Terry J. D

    Hi, Terry!
    Yes, you may print my FAQ 10 for your personal use, as long as the copyright language at the bottom is included and you're not selling it. No, FAQ 10 is not included in The Red Dragon & The West Wind. See, The Red Dragon stands for Chinese Majiang Competition Rules (MCR), and The West Wind stands for American/NMJL mah-jongg. No room for the simplified rules too. My book does contain some useful information, though, in the first two chapters, and the appendices, and the glossary. Chapter 4.B. starts with, but marches on beyond, simplified rules (it gets into table practices used in MCR tournaments, and maybe a bit into MCR rules). So I don't feel bad that you bought my book, even though it doesn't contain the simplified rules per se!
    I think you can't go wrong by starting with simplified Chinese! That's why I wrote FAQ 10. It'll be easy for you to adapt to other variants after you've mastered the simplified game. I hope you'll enjoy learning it with your new set!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 4, 2019

    .


    Desperate for a carver

    >From: "eklectk at aol dot com
    >Sent: Thursday, January 3, 2019 11:18 AM
    >Subject: Help!
    >Hello Tom-
    >I would never bother you, but-I'm desperate for a recommendation for a Bakelite Mah Jog tile carver. Dee Gallo was carving for years, but has health issues and I'm not sure she'll be back.
    >Do you know of anyone else?
    >Thanks so much-
    >Michelle W

    Sorry, Michelle. If I knew any such thing, I would post it at FAQ seven O. I just looked, and Dee is the only carver listed. I just went to her website and I see the "until further notice" notice. If you find someone who wants to have their info advertised, let me know!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 3, 2019 12 noon


    Your site is blocked, and I am overwhelmed with mah-jongg set "stuff"

    >From: Rochelle R
    >Sent: Sunday, December 30, 2018 8:41 PM
    >Subject: help
    >First-Happy new Year!
    >I can’t seem to get into your website. Any suggestions?
    [Error message not displayable]
    >Second- I wish to buy a Mah Jongg set. I’ve read your suggestions, but when i got to the MahJOngg sites suggested, I was overwhelmed with “stuff”.
    >I’ve heard i can go to amazon.com to buy a set for less than $40. I’m hoping you can direct me to a specific set a beginner might purchase. Please help.
    >(or even a store in China town.
    >Rochelle D

    Happy new year to you too, Rochelle. You wrote:

    I can’t seem to get into your website. Any suggestions?
    I'm able to get into my website just fine. I suggest you just try again. I'm not aware of any malicious takeover of my site - just now, I spot-checked several folders on the server, and all the dates are as they should be (unlike the last time my site was hacked). If you get that error message from Firefox again, try clicking the Advanced button to get past the blockage. I tried using Firefox and got no similar error message.

    I’ve heard i can go to amazon.com to buy a set for less than $40.
    Surely not a set suitable for American mah-jongg, with 152 tiles and 4 racks (if that is what you're looking for). And if there is such a thing at that price, it would surely not be regular-size, regular-thickness tiles, with Western indices, pleasing to the fingers and the ears.

    but when i got to the MahJOngg sites suggested, I was overwhelmed with “stuff”.
    I can't help with internet information overload. This is life in the information era.

    I’m hoping you can direct me to a specific set a beginner might purchase.
    I can't do that. I don't know what your requirements or preferences are. I think you need the personal service you can get from a small vendor, like those listed in FAQ 4A (if your browser will cooperate and let you view my website). Pick any vendor, visit their website, find their phone number. Call them on the telephone, and tell the helpful operator what you want. If one vendor doesn't have what you want, try phoning another. Mom-and-pop stores give you good personal service, unlike "overwhelming you with stuff" Amazon.

    (or even a store in China town.
    If you mean the Los Angeles Chinatown, I recently went there and confirmed that the links in FAQ 7K are still valid (L.A. Chinatown stores listed in FAQ 7K do still carry mah-jongg sets). Haven't been to San Francisco Chinatown recently, so I can't confirm those listings. And I can't help you with other Chinatowns than those two.

    May the tiles be with you. Really!
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    New Year's Eve Day, 2018 7:45 AM


    Calling a natural tile "Same"

    >From: Michele D
    >Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2018 3:25 PM
    >Subject: Calling a natural tile "Same"
    >I have scoured the rules and several books trying to find an answer for when to call a tile "Same".
    >It's clear that the dealer on the first turn throws a joker she calls it a joker. Thereafter jokers may be called "same", Most players either say joker or same, indicative of the previous tile.
    >My question is not about the joker but a duplicate natural tile. Many players just say "Same" if they throw a duplicate tile to the one before. No where does it say whether you should or should not say "Same" in this case or announce the proper tile name.
    >So the question is should you announce the tile name or is it ok to say same when throwing a duplicate tile? Is there any clarification on this matter or is it that it simply doesn't matter.
    >Thanks for the help.
    >MicheleD

    Hi, Michele! Happy new year. You wrote:

    is it ok to say same when throwing a duplicate tile?
    Yes. Without that, there would be no foundation for saying "same" when throwing a joker.

    No where does it say whether you should or should not say "Same" in this case or announce the proper tile name.
    Because that's not what rules do! Rules only tell you what you are allowed to do. Rules can't advise you as to what you "should" do (or not do) in every situation. For that, we must cross over from "rules" to "strategy."

    Many players do not understand that this rule enables a heightening of the level of play from amateur to expert. Without this rule, players just look at their own tiles and get all information about the game by using their ears. That's what beginners and amateurish players do: they use their eyes for looking at their own tiles, and use their ears (and their ears alone) for everything else, rarely bothering to look up at the table or their opponents.

    When an ears-only player hears "same," she often assumes what was discarded was just the same thing as the previous discard, in other words "nothing important." Someone discarding a joker is important! It tells you she may be near mah-jongg, and you'd better be careful what you discard. And if you aren't looking (you're just listening), you miss important information. Saying "same" separates the dilettantes from the elite, the amateurs from the pros.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 30, 2018 8:30 AM


    Scoring, paying, pie, and betting

    >From: Bonnie <stchaprast
    >Sent: Monday, December 24, 2018 12:13 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I need some written words about Mah Jongg betting and how it goes in order for me to explain - pie and how to collect your winnings in the proper ways so I can help my students in this area. I know it’s not a written rule but most games do adhere in the same manner. Where can I find this?
    >Thank you
    >Bonnie3

    Hi, Bonnie3!
    Since you mention "pie" I assume you are asking about American (NMJL) mah-jongg. Since you teach American mah-jongg, I further assume you have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook.


    This is the League's official rulebook. It was revised in 2013, and again in 2018.
    Every table should have an up-to-date copy!
    I'm not paid to say this. Just sayin' it's important to have and read.

    I have written answers to the most frequently asked questions about American mah-jongg in FAQ 19. If you haven't bookmarked it yet, I highly recommend you do. You asked about 4 things: scoring, paying, pie, and betting.
    SCORING is fully explained on the back of the card. I know students resist reading, but if you show them the text at the upper left corner of the back of the card, you can walk them through all of it. Then, every time the question arises again, you can point the student to the back of the card again. Also see page 24 of the rulebook ("STANDARD SCORING").
    PAYING - I have several FAQs about paying in FAQ 19. Go to FAQ 19 and click on "WINNING, SCORING, PAYING."
    PIE is fully explained in the "WINNING, SCORING, PAYING" section of FAQ 19.
    BETTING is explained in great detail in the rulebook on page 22 ("RULES FOR BETTORS"). And I also wrote a little about it in the "WINNING, SCORING, PAYING" section of FAQ 19.
    And of course these are all fully covered in my book, too. Shameless plug: you should buy a copy! :p
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 24, 2018 3:45 PM


    Two players, four walls

    >From: christine w
    >Sent: Friday, December 21, 2018 1:53 PM
    >Subject: Two Players, Four Walls
    >Hi Tom,
    >We’re beginners following (and very grateful for!) your simplified rules for Asian style. We have started by using only one suit plus honors, and building two walls.
    >My questions concern the four walls variation for two players. Once the four walls are built, does the dealing and drawing from the walls (two players only) proceed clockwise through all the walls, including those of the unoccupied seats? And, do all four walls come down to be reshuffled and rebuilt once the hand has been played?
    >It seems to make sense that way now that I write the question...but, I’m not entirely clear. It seems like a lot of wall building for two players!
    >Thanks for your help!
    >Chris

    Hi, Chris! To take your question in its separate parts, you wrote:

    Once the four walls are built, does the dealing and drawing from the walls (two players only) proceed clockwise through all the walls, including those of the unoccupied seats?
    Yes. "The wall" consists of four segments, but it's just one wall. The wall segments have no special relationship with their corresponding seats.

    And, do all four walls come down to be reshuffled and rebuilt once the hand has been played?
    If you don't, then you'll know what tiles are present in the wall segments you played, and by extension, what tiles are present in the wall that was not torn down. But maybe you'll find that that adds a new strategy to the game.

    It seems like a lot of wall building for two players!
    Yes. That's surely one of the factors in the preference for playing with more than two players. You've tried a one-suit variant, and you can try a two-suit variant. There's no "mah-jongg police" to arrest you for making up your own variant.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Winter Solstice, 2018 7:00 PM


    Can I redeem a joker atop my own rack?

    >From: barbara b
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2018 8:09 AM
    >Subject: Joker exchange from own hand
    >I was doing the FF 3333 6666 9999 in Bams hand last week and I made a mistake. I had 3JJ and 66J, so I need a 3 or a 6 or a J to complete one section. I drew the 6 bam BUT I exposed 66JJ, leaving one 6 bam on my rack. Can I use that 6 bam to exchange for a joker from my own exposure? I have read everything I can find on this and I think the answer is "no" but nowhere is it explicitly stated.
    >Thanks, Barbara

    Hi, Barbara!
    Look at the back of the card. Left pane, the paragraph beginning with "Jokers..." just above the numbered rules (italics added). Third sentence. "Jokers may be replaced in any exposure with like tile or tiles by any player, whether picked from wall or in player's hand, when it is player's turn."


    The most-needed rules are printed on the back of the NMJL card.
    Many frequently asked questions are answered on the card.

    "In any exposure," the rule says. So the answer is yes. If you discarded (ending your turn) after making the exposure, then on a subsequent turn you can redeem the joker. If you haven't discarded yet, you can make the substitution and then discard a tile. Want more details about joker redemption? Here on my site, I have a directory of answers to the most frequently asked questions about American mah-jongg. Your question, "Can I redeem a joker atop my own rack," is FAQ 19-M.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 18, 2018 5:40 PM


    Donation, part 2

    >From: Julie Azous
    >Sent: Sunday, December 16, 2018 6:26 AM
    >Subject: Re: Notification of donation received
    >Tom, it is my pleasure. As a teacher, I refer often to your column probably more often than calling the league.
    >Check out my website. Happy New Year!
    >Regards,
    >Julie
    >www.masteringmahjongg.com

    Nice. A site for sore eyes! :p
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom


    Your FAQs really clarified things for me

    >from: charles w & judith r d
    >Sent: Friday, December 14, 2018 8:19 PM
    >Subject: Thank you
    >Tom,
    >It's been 65 years since I last played Mah Jongg, so I found the card a little confusing; I was taking it too literally.
    >So I read through your FAQs. I thought your answers were hilarious and really hammered home to need to carefully read the parentheticals and rules and definitions.
    >Thank you, it really clarified things for me.
    >Judy H

    I'm so glad my FAQs were helpful for you, Judy!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 16, 2018 6:20 AM


    Donation

    >From: "service@paypal.
    >Sent: Saturday, December 15, 2018 9:10 AM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    > paypal
    > You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $25.00 USD from Julie A
    >You can view the details for this transaction by logging in to your PayPal account and clicking the "History" tab.View the details of this transaction online
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $25.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Julie A
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you very much, Julie!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 16, 2018 6:20 AM


    She realized she was making a mistake. Can she undo her mistake?

    >From: Bonnie D
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 2:32 PM
    >Subject: American MahJongg Question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for the many questions and answers on your site.I couldn't find the answer to my current question.
    >If a player takes a tile and starts to expose some tiles but realizes the exposure is wrong,can they put the exposure back in their rack since they haven't discarded yet?
    >Thanks very much.
    >Bonnie

    Hi, Bonnie!
    I wish I could make it easier to find that answer, but there are so many ways a person can word the question (and word a page search). Anyway, this is answered in the "UNDO, UNDO! I changed my mind, can I take it back? ("CHANGE OF HEART") section of FAQ 19. Specifically, you want FAQ 19-AM (see the 2nd question, "Calling a discard."). Once she took the discard and put it on her rack and started exposing tiles, it was too late to undo her action.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 11, 2018 3:00 PM


    Teaching kids

    >From: Elaine D
    >Sent: Monday, December 10, 2018 8:33 PM
    >Subject: Teaching Kids American Mah Jongg (ages 7 - 10)
    >Hello Tom - First, I love your book The Red Dragon and the West Wing. I used it as a text book when I taught American Maj Jongg to senior citizens as a volunteer at the San Pablo Senior Center, San Pablo, CA from July 2015 - July 2017.
    >Now I would like to teach American Mah Jongg to elementary school children, grades 3 to 5, ages 8 to 10 years old. Although I have no research or evidence to support this, I believe that their skills for reading and arithmetic will be greatly enhanced by learning and playing American Mah Jongg. Needless to say, no money will be involved with the children, but rewards they appreciate, e.g., stickers.
    >Since you are my expert regarding American Mah Jongg any information and advice you share will be greatly appreciated. In return, I would love to share with you any evidenced based results from the classes with the children.
    >With respect (for your skill) and gratitude (for the sharing of your knowledge),
    >Elaine D
    >Former American Maj Jongg Teacher (2015 - 2017)
    >President of the Friends of the Richmond Public Library (CA) (2018 - 2019)

    Hi, Elaine! Gosh, such high praise!
    With only a few exceptions, I have not taught the game to children. The conclusion I have reached from the few kids I have taught is that you will probably find that the kiddos learn the game MUCH quicker than adults. I wish you success, but I don't have any tips for you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 11, 2018


    What does "any" mean? (FAQ 19-J)

    >From: Marie F
    >Sent: Saturday, December 8, 2018 7:42 AM
    >Subject: The Word "Any"
    >We feel the word any refers to the numbers but not dragons. What do you say "any"means
    >thank you

    Good morning, Marie! Dictionary.com defines "any" thusly:

      adjective
      1. one, a, an, or some; one or more without specification or identification:
        If you have any witnesses, produce them. Pick out any six you like.
      2. whatever or whichever it may be:
        cheap at any price.

    That definition perfectly defines the word, in my opinion. The word applies to anything! That's what it says in any dictionary of the English language (see, "any" even applies to dictionaries!). Obviously you play American mah-jongg, and your group is having some kind of argument about how to interpret one or more hands on the 2018 NMJL card. You didn't say which instance of the word "any" on the card your argument is about, so I get to pick any "any" I want.

    But first I want to draw your attention to FAQ 16, where I have answered the most frequently asked questions about the 2018 NMJL card. If your group's argument is based on how to interpret a particular hand, you'll probably find that I've already answered the question in FAQ 16. And I also want to draw your attention to FAQ 19-J, the "what does 'any' mean" FAQ. FAQ 16 answers questions about the NMJL card - and FAQ 19 answers questions about NMJL rules. You might want to bookmark them.

    Now then, let's test the notion "the word any refers to numbers but not dragons" by considering 2468 #3.

    22 44 666 888 DDDD (Any 3 Suits)

    There's the word "any." This hand includes both numbers and dragons. The parenthetical and the color-coding both indicate that this is a three-suit hand. The hand is properly made in a number of ways, among them these:

    If the word any really refers to numbers but not dragons, then how exactly could my illustration above be incorrect? "Any" refers to both numbers and dragons, since dragons are suited. If I make the hand with bams and craks, then the dragons have to be soaps. If I make the hand with dots and bams, then the dragons have to be reds. If I make the hand with dots and craks, then the dragons have to be greens. "Any" is including (not excluding) dragons in that example.

    Now let us consider Quints #1:

    NNNNN DDDD 11111 (Quint Any Wind & Any No. in Any Suit, Kong Any Dragon)

    As I explained in FAQ 16, the dragon can be any dragon (it actually says that in the parenthetical). And the number quint can be any number (it says that in the parenthetical), and the wind can be any wind. So: not just Norths, not just green dragons, and not just ones (and certainly not just one craks). Because of all those "anys" in the parenthetical, this hand may be made in one suit or two suits.

    See? ANY number. In ANY suit. With ANY dragon. And even any WIND! "Any" can refer to anything. I stand by for someone from your group to argue that I'm wrong. But I am not the National Mah Jongg League. If your group needs an official answer, I recommend you write a letter to the League. But your question should probably include specific examples from the card, so the League can't just pick any example they want, like I did.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 9, 2018


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

    >From: Beth D
    >Sent: Friday, December 7, 2018 7:12 PM
    >Subject: Misidentified tile
    >I was playing the other night and the player to my left discarded but misidentified the tile. No one realized it and i picked up my
    >Tile and racked it. After I racked the player to my right said the tile had been misidentified and she wanted the tile. I put my tile back and let her pick up the tile but was that the right thing to do. I had already racked the tile before she called out the mistake. Please let me know what was the right thing to do
    >Beth D
    >Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Beth!
    Let's follow this step by step.

    the player to my left discarded but misidentified the tile. No one realized it
    Yes, that's what happens when everybody gets lulled (and sometimes misled) by the vocalizations. Everybody just focuses on her tiles and the card, and trusts what is said and so doesn't bother watching what's going on at the table. (Hint: there's a lot going on at the table that bears watching.)

    and i picked up my Tile and racked it.
    For clarity's sake, for my readers: you picked from the wall.

    After I racked the player to my right said the tile had been misidentified and she wanted the tile.
    Doh!

    I put my tile back and let her pick up the tile but was that the right thing to do.
    No.

    I had already racked the tile before she called out the mistake.
    Exactly. She spoke too late. The window of opportunity on that misnamed discard closed when your tile hit home on your rack. If only she'd spoken up a second earlier! Read FAQ 19-AY for an explanation of the misnaming rule, and FAQ 19-C for an explanation of the Window of Opportunity rule.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Pearl Harbor Day, 2018 7:50 PM


    That's your vinyl warning! (Was: Puzzling set)

    >From: inkyno1
    >Sent: Thursday, December 6, 2018 6:27 PM
    >Subject: That's your vinyl warning!
    >Hi Tom,
    >Me again :D
    >Just wanted to say thanks for the responses! Also you said that you have never encountered vinyl tiles before? Well then either you are lying or the website is.
    >In 7c "How To Identify What Your Tiles Are Made Of" there is a section that refers to "Vinyl Plastic" tiles. So either that is incorrect or maybe your memory is leaving you, haha.
    >An just for fun I got a couple more questions for you:
    >How long have you been playing/studying Mah-jongg?
    >And what is the most expensive Mah-jongg set you have sold or evaluated?
    >And thank you again for your previous responses :)

    My memory has a gap there. That section was written by the previous owner of the domain. I've never seen or owned any vinyl tiles myself; they might exist, I suppose. I started playing/studying mah-jongg in 1993 or 1994. I've heard of beautiful and rare sets, and sets of exotic materials, going for as much as $2,000.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 6, 2018 7:20 PM


    You wrote a book, I hear

    >From: Claudette G
    >Sent: Thursday, December 6, 2018 5:46 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jong question
    >I did not see these question on the list.
    >Question: On the first Charleston if a player steals a tile to pass to the left are they then allowed to say they can do a second Charleston even though they stole the tile to make their left pass. Or is the Charleston over.
    >If a person hasn’t racked their tile, and they discard with the other hand , is there hand considered dead because of not racking the tile?
    >I noticed while looking on line you have a book of rules where can I purchase that? What is the cost? The Red Dragon and the West Wind
    >Thank you, Claudette G

    Hi, Claudette! You asked:

    On the first Charleston if a player steals a tile to pass to the left are they then allowed to say they can do a second Charleston even though they stole the tile to make their left pass. Or is the Charleston over.
    There is no rule that says otherwise, and this is the first time I ever heard of this concept. Blind passing (it's not properly called "stealing") does not obligate a player to any further actions or inactions. Anyone can blind pass anytime it's permitted; no complications or prohibitions pursue thereunto.

    If a person hasn’t racked their tile, and they discard with the other hand , is there hand considered dead because of not racking the tile?
    That is not a death penalty offense. In Japan, you would be called out for using two hands and not one. But in American mah-jongg, once she has discarded a tile, her turn is over. It's impolite to continue holding the picked tile; she needs to rack it (actually, the rules can be interpreted as meaning she must rack it).

    you have a book of rules where can I purchase that? What is the cost? The Red Dragon and the West Wind
    I have numerous banners and links to my book, on many pages of my website (there's a link in this sentence, and there's one in my sig, below). I don't sell my book here; it's surely available through all the major book outlets.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 6, 2018 7:30 PM


    Concealed kongs, part 2

    >From: Kent P
    >To: Tom Sloper; Peter Gregory
    >Sent: Thursday, December 6, 2018 5:41 PM
    >Subject: Re: Declared Kongs 2
    >Tom,
    >Thanks for your prompt reply. The issue appears to be a matter of using the correct terminology to match the concept. I was not aware there are two variants for a displaying a declared-concealed Kong.
    >We have been relying upon the BMJA sanctioned book "Know The Game, Man-Jong". On page 23, the box labeled "EXPOSED AND CONCEALED" appears to describe the second of the two variants, which I prefer not to use.
    >I prefer the first variant, where during play (1)"Undeclared Kongs" (which are not fully formed Kongs) in the hand can be distinguished from (2) melded "Declared-Concealed Kongs" displayed face down on the rack. I will cease to use the term "Concealed Kong" to describe an "Undeclared Kong". I recognize that the display for scoring a melded "Declared-Concealed Kong" is changed from its display during play.
    >Furthermore, the four tiles of an Undeclared Kong can be (A) converted to a melded Declared-Concealed Kong, or broken apart (B) to make a Pung plus a tile for a Chow, or (C) to make two pairs for an All-Pair-Honors special hand.
    >I hope I have that right.
    >Thanks again.
    >Kent P

    You have that right, Kent! If Know The Game doesn't go into enough detail for you, I list other books about British and Western and Australian rules in FAQ 3. The more books you have on your variant, the better armed you are (they fill in gaps for one another).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 6, 2018 7:40 PM


    Puzzling set (Well, to me at least)

    >From: inkyno1
    >Sent: Thursday, December 6, 2018 3:00 PM
    >Subject: Puzzling Mah-jongg set (Well, to me at least)
    >Hello Tom,
    >My step-dad gave me this Mah-jongg set about a week ago and I'm was trying to figure out what kind of set it is. Upon finding your site (Super informative btw) and doing some research, I think I got some of it right, but I knowing me I'm pretty sure I got it wrong. So I thought I would ask you rather than false advertise if I choose to sell it.
    >And sorry for the picture quality, my phone is pretty garbage. If you need me to retake any just say, I can do them in better quality if needed, which I don't doubt x)
    >So to start off with the set has 148 tiles.
    >36 Dots
    >36 Bams
    >36 Craks
    >16 Winds
    >12 Dragons
    >8 Flowers
    >4 Blanks
    >Each tile is 2.7 cm in length, 2 cm in width and 1.3 in height
    >The underside of the tiles are a jade green and have a small lime gradient going into the white
    >There are 3 dice with a cube and cube holder Wind Indicator.
    >There is a pink instruction manual (Most of it is in somewhat broken English).
    >The manual has no noticeable damage but is misaligned slightly.
    >The case has what I believe to be leather surrounding wood. It has two brass brandishings on each corner of the lid and a brass button to keep the lid in place. It has "MAH JONG" on the front in a custom Broadway engraved font.
    >The tile count matches with a 1920's Chinese set but the White dragons are not blank so I am unsure. Also looks to modern.
    >As for what the tiles are made of I'm not too sure. I'm stuck between fish-bone or vinyl.
    >I think it could be fish-bone as the proportions of the tiles match up almost perfectly to the "Bone and Bamboo" Size averages, as well as the tiles being almost completely white with a faint beige-ness to them, cream almost. This lines up with the visual example given, the fish-bone ones are slightly more beige compared to the newer vinyl ones. On the other side, their edges are curved rather than sharp and are lacking any bamboo.
    >I think they could also be vinyl as they do look similar to the older vinyl tiles. They also don't feel like bone. Though I have never felt processed bone before I'd imagine it would be rougher or dry and not as smooth as these tiles.
    >There is also something that could go both ways. One of the West Wind tiles doesn't have a "w" on it. I would assume that vinyl have stamps that are used to place the pattern on, so it would be very weird to see one without it in place. This could mean that the w is a separate stamp or each tile is done by hand, and one was forgotten about either way.
    >So my questions are:
    >What do you think the tiles are made of?
    >What kind of set do you think it is?
    >What price do you think it is roughly? (Feel free to skip this one as I can look on eBay once I know what kind of set it is, but would be nice regardless).
    >Sorry if a question here is answered in your Q&A, I have read it all but just in case I do ask an already answered question, my bad. I can be an idiot sometimes :D


    Hi, inkyno1. You asked:

    What do you think the tiles are made of?
    Plastic. High-density polyethylene, most likely. I don't think I've ever encountered or heard of vinyl tiles. Your instinct (that bone would feel different) is spot on.

    What kind of set do you think it is?
    A bog-standard Westernized Chinese-style set. I have one just like it except my tile backs are blue and my case is black. Yours even comes with the infamously useless yet omnipresent "Chinglish" instruction booklet. The missing corner W on one tile is surely just a manufacturing error of some kind.

    What price do you think it is roughly?
    $50 new; adjust as appropriate for condition. You sure work hard for your Ebay sales! Very commendable.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 6, 2018 4:00 PM


    Concealed kongs (in all forms of mah-jongg except American)

    >From: Kent P
    >To: Peter Gregory <MahJongBritishRules...>; Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 9:05 PM
    >Subject: Declared Kongs
    >I teach a course "Learn & Play Mahjong" in the OLLI program at Sierra College in Grass Valley, California.
    >A minor disagreement has surfaced, the source of which appears to be a difference in rules put fourth 1) by Tom Sloper and 2) by Peter Gregory
    >Background basic: A kong is created by adding a fourth tile to a pung, all tiles being of the same value and same suit.
    >There are four types of Kongs, depending upon the location of the pung (concealed or revealed) and the source of the drawn tile (wall or discard pile).
    >The following table can be constructed:

      Tile from wall. Tile from discard pile
      Pung concealed in hand 1) "Concealed" Kong 2) Revealed Kong
      Pung revealed 3) Revealed Kong 4) Illegal

    >Furthermore, Kongs exist in two states:
    >A) During play, before any player goes Mahjong
    >B) Displayed for scoring, after any player goes Mahjong
    >The. question is, "How is a "Concealed" Kong converted into a "Declared" Kong and how are these to be displayed in state A) during play and in state B) for scoring?
    >Note: A concealed Kong may be:
  • >immediately declared
  • >held and declared at a later turn
  • >never declared but used for some other purpose.
    >☞ According to Tom Sloper:

      >"FAQ 20. When you have a concealed triplet in the hand, and you pick [draw from the wall?] the fourth tile, you are permitted to declare a "concealed kong." You certainly have to MELD it, not just tell the others. They have to see why you've got the right to have an extra tile in the hand. But the way most Chinese variants do it, the meld is face-down.
      >
      >"The players can all see that you have a melded kong, but they can't see what it is. It is "concealed." Once you've made the meld, you are permitted to take a replacement tile from the back end of the wall. Now you have 15 tiles in the hand, and that's OK because you've got a kong."

    >☞ According to the British Mahjong Association website:

      >"Q. How should you show an exposed kong? A. An end tile is shown face down. [When? During play of the hand or after a Mahjong is achieved?]
      >"Q. How should you show a concealed kong? A. The two end tiles are shown face down. [Again when? During play of the hand or after a Mahjong is achieved?]
      >"Q. Must I always show a kong that I have in my hand? A. Only if you intend to keep the kong [concealed?]. If you pick up a tile from the wall to make a concealed kong you must then lay that [the kong?] down and get a tile from the kong box. However, you are not forced to declare a concealed kong if you decide that you don’t want to keep it or if you are saving pairs for the special hand “All pair honours”. Note: A concealed kong has 2 tiles face up and 2 face down.
      >"Q. Can I add a tile to an exposed pung to make a kong? A. Yes, but only if you pick it up from the wall. You cannot claim a discarded tile to add to an exposed pung.

    >Note: The answer to the third BMJA question appears to be confused and ambiguous. Should a kong be kept concealed by showing? Is that a non sequitur?
    >According to Know The Game Mah-jong, page 23, " …when a kong is claimed the tiles are placed three face up and one - usually at one end to the set - face down. Once someone has gone Mah-Jong, concealed…Kongs are shown with both end tiles face down."
    >Which of these disparate rules should be followed? Should I make the choice? In which case, I would choose Tom Sloper's rule for declared Kongs, i.e., place the declared Kong face down during play of the hand.
    >Kent P

    Hi Kent, and hello Peter.
    Kent, in your table, you used the term "concealed kong" as definition #1 (pung concealed in hand plus a fourth picked from the wall), and I disagree with it.

    In all forms of mah-jongg except American, the term "concealed kong" has a specific meaning: it's a displayed kong, either with all tiles face-down or with the two middle tiles face-up, depending on the variant being played. I disagree with calling a fully concealed kong just "concealed" - I would rather call that "undeclared." But correspondents on the old newsgroup used the term "fully concealed." I think the wrong use of the term "concealed" in your table is what's behind your question.

    An undeclared kong is not conceptually the same thing as a pung plus a fourth tile used in a chow. The former is one set, and the latter is a set plus part of a set. It's also not conceptually the same thing as two identical pairs (as mentioned on the BMJA site quoted above). If you have an undeclared kong in the hand (the only thing the four tiles can do is form a kong), you cannot declare mah-jongg. You don't have enough tiles. You have the undeclared kong, and you have ten additional tiles (when it's your turn and you haven't discarded yet) - you need at least eleven additional tiles (not ten) in order to form three sets and a pair to go with your kong. So in that case you have to declare the kong, if you ever want to make mah-jongg. For this reason, I would discourage the use of the term "concealed" to refer to an undeclared kong. The BMJA description was not wrong in calling it "keep[ing] the kong," and did not use the term "concealed kong" to mean a kept kong which might be used as two pairs. I see no discrepancy between the two, given the proper usage of the term "concealed kong" as something that has been declared (and melded).

    The reason for declaring a concealed kong is so that one can draw a kong replacement tile from the back end of the wall - so that it's possible to use the four as a kong and still have enough tiles to declare mah-jongg.

    Sorry if that was belaboring the obvious, or came across as rambling! And I hope it satisfactorily explains things.
    Cheers!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 5, 2018 10:40 PM

    December 6, 2018 3:00 PM
    Kent, a followup. I just noticed I didn't reply to some of your questions (placed within the quoted sections) last night:

    "FAQ 20. When you have a concealed triplet in the hand, and you pick [draw from the wall?]
    Yes. That's how I define "pick" in the glossary of my book.

    "Q. How should you show an exposed kong? A. An end tile is shown face down. [When? During play of the hand or after a Mahjong is achieved?]
    When melding and declaring the kong.

    "Q. How should you show a concealed kong? A. The two end tiles are shown face down. [Again when? During play of the hand or after a Mahjong is achieved?]
    At the moment of melding and declaring the kong.

    Finally, a question for you: I'm curious which variant it is you teach to your Sierra College students. British rules? Chinese competition rules? Or another Chinese variant?
    Cheers,
    Tom


    I called you dead but you're not. What now?

    >From: Barney G
    >Sent: Thursday, December 6, 2018 10:36 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Hello Tom. Happy Holidays.
    >I call your hand dead. You say no it’s not and we all continue to play. You end up getting a Mah Jongg on a 30 cent hand. So clearly I was wrong in my death challenge. I believe I owe you BOTH the 30 cents for your winning hand and a quarter for my incorrect death challenge. Is that correct? Thank you! Barney

    Yes, Barney. Exactly correct.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 6, 2018


    Column #710 oopsie

    >From: Margaret S
    >Sent: Monday, December 3, 2018 3:42 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom , # 3 in your new column could also be Consec. #5 any run ???
    > thanks for all your wonderful help. Peggy

    Quite right, Peggy! So another hot tile is 6C.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 3, 2018


    New column

    It's been two months since the last one! I've been going through some stuff lately, but I know people value my columns, so there's a new one today. Defense puzzles. Did I get something wrong? Let me know, and get a tip o' the Sloper hat! - Tom


    Is 1123 like NEWS or 2018, part 2

    >From: Polly B
    >Sent: Saturday, December 1, 2018 7:41 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank you very much for your timely input.

    May the tiles be with you, Polly!
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 1, 2018 10:50 PM


    Is 1123 like NEWS or 2018?

    >From: Polly B
    >Sent: Saturday, December 1, 2018 4:15 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: The card for 2018 does not allow selecting a discarded tile for completing NEWS or for the date 2018, unless it's for Mah. Does the same rule apply under section quints for 1123?


    Same rule applies, Polly. For a more detailed answer, all the frequently asked questions about Quints #3 are answered in FAQ 16 (which also answers all the most frequently asked questions about the 2018 card - you might want to bookmark it).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 1, 2018


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