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The Mah Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION.

Hi. I'm Tom Sloper. Welcome to my bulletin board. Here you can ask questions about Mah-Jongg, and get answers, usually within hours!
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    Keep scrolling - the Q&A is below.





  • Must I place a picked tile in the rack, part 2

    >From: Maureen S
    >Sent: Saturday, July 23, 2016 8:00 AM
    >Subject: Re: [No Subject]
    >Thank you for answering. However, I'm not asking about the availability of the previously discarded tile. I just want to know if there is a rule that you have to place the tile you've picked from the wall on your rack before you discard it. Or, can you pick the tile, look at it, and discard it without ever putting it on your rack, knowing that the previously discarded tile is available until the tile I've just picked up is discarded or racked. Thanks again.

    Hello, Maureen.
    Are you sure you read FAQ 19-BL? The first of the three variations on "must I place a picked tile in my rack" is:

      (1) We have a player who picks a tile, then discards a tile without ever putting the picked tile on her rack. Is she allowed to do that? Aren't we always required to rack the tile after picking it? 
      A.1. No. There is no rule that says a player must rack before discarding. 

    I fail to see how that does not answer the question you asked. Looks to me like that's EXACTLY what you asked. It isn't? What am I missing? There are two other variations on "doesn't she have to put her tiles on the rack," but those don't push the first one out of existence.
    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
    July 23, 2016


    Must I place a picked tile in the rack?

    >From: Maureen S
    >Sent: Friday, July 22, 2016 7:42 AM
    >Subject: [No Subject]
    >Is it against the rules (American Mah Jongg) to, in one fluid motion, pick your tile from the wall, look at it and discard it, without ever putting it on or touching your rack? Thanks!

    Hi, Maureen.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-BL. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    July 22, 2016


    Can she change her exposure or is she dead instantly?

    >From: "lraitt
    >Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2016 7:28 PM
    >Subject: question
    >Hi Tom ~
    >Tried to find my exact question, found something similar but not exact.
    >A player calls for exposure. She needs 4 1 Bams and puts up 3 of them with a green Dragon by mistake. My group says that makes you dead. My understanding is that you can change anything in your exposure as long as you have not discarded yet. What I found on your website mentioned an extra joker exposed, but not a completely different tile from what you need. I assume it doesn't matter - that if it is still your turn and you haven't discarded, you can take that green Dragon back, and put up either another 1 Bam or a joker with it to make the correct exposure.. Yes?
    >Thank you!
    >Lois

    Lois, you're referring to Frequently Asked Question 19-AF. I believe I have seen something like your question in a newsletter from the NMJL, with flowers in a set of 1B. I believe that you are correct and your other players are too hasty with the death challenges. Our interpretation (yours and mine) is, I believe, in keeping with the principle behind the rule in 19-AF. If you want official confirmation, you can send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the League.
    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
    July 21, 2016


    Column 655

    >From: Beth P
    >Sent: Friday, July 15, 2016 3:32 PM
    >Subject: column #655
    >Tom: Column #655 Item 10. Another possibility is odds number 6. Hot tiles 1,3 in dots or craks and 9 in dots or craks with 1 and 3 as key tiles. Beth

    Very good, Beth! A tip o' the hat to you. If any of those ones or threes go dead, then you have one less possibility to worry about.
    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
    July 15, 2016


    How specific does a call have to be?

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Friday, July 15, 2016 5:08 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is Playing American Mah Jongg when claiming a discard, the back of the 2016 card says that the player must verbalize her call... They may say “call”, “take”, “I want that”, etc. But does the claiming player have to name the tile ex. “I want that 8 bam, flower, etc.”? We had a discussion today at our weekly Mah Jongg game about whether the name of the tile must be spoken so everyone knows what tile is being claimed. Sometimes the tables we play on are big and round and it is hard to see the exposed tiles. Thanks for your answer and continued advice so that all our players are on the same page (yours and now mine) for enjoyable games of Mah Jongg. Just wish those jokers would be in my hand more often. Hope your summer is going well. Lynn P.

    Hi Lynn,
    Under normal circumstances, all players are expected to be observant and up to date on what tile is the current live discard, so it's normally not necessary to name the tile. If you're playing at a big table with dim lighting and sight-impaired or hearing-impaired players, then it's just good common sense to adapt the rules to your situation. But the rules assume small well lit tables and players with good eyesight and hearing, so the rules do not anticipate your question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 15, 2016


    Can Half Flush be combined, part 2

    >From: Ken A
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 13, 2016 9:46 AM
    >Subject: Inevitable
    >Tom,
    >Many thanks for the quick answer. In an effort to clarify my question, let me extend the wording of your answer over to the 7 Pairs Fan element. "It isn't inevitable that Seven Pairs must always come with a Concealed Hand. The other possibility is that the hand may be Fully Concealed. Concealed Hand [2 points] is actually the lesser of the two possible combinations, the other being Fully Concealed [4 points]. So I don't know why you question whether Concealed can be combined. Anything that isn't inevitable (implied)."
    >Yet we know that Concealed Hand (2 points) is not a permitted add-on for the Seven Pairs Fan element. Isn't this a bit puzzling if we expect consistency from the scoring approaches?
    >Ken A

    Hi, Ken.
    First off, I’m sorry if my response yesterday was snippy. I had posted a response after inadequately skimming your email, and later discovered that you had mentioned the points I’d raised in my first response. Then, embarrassed, I rather hastily edited what I’d first posted, and after all that it may have come across with a bit of attitude.

    Anyway. Some hands are just special, by dint of their unusual structure, requiring special rules for what scoring combinations may and may not be added. When in doubt, first check the Scoring Principles (FAQ 22), and also check the rulebook description of the hand itself. Seven Pairs is just such a special case; Scoring Principles probably don’t tell the whole story. Because Seven Pairs is "special" (i.e., weird), its scoring rules are spelled out in the official MCR rulebook. Seven Pairs may not combine with Concealed or Single Wait. May combine with All Types and Tile Hog. Fully Concealed may be added. So specifyeth the rules, in keeping with the way Seven Pairs is handled in numerous Asian variants.

    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, CA, USA

    July 13, 2016


    Can Half Flush be combined with Little Four Winds?

    >From: Ken A
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 12, 2016 10:55 AM
    >Subject: Quandary
    >Tom,
    >Many thanks for your methodical answer to the question I posed on 1/28/16. Our Majiang group here in tiny Red Lodge, Montana continues to follow the outstanding advice you included therein.
    >
    >Here's a new quandary we've recently encountered. Can a hand that wins with a Fan element of "Little Four Winds" receive the added 6 points for "Half Flush?" The hand in question is shown below:
    >
    >
    >
    >The hand was neither fully melded nor fully concealed, and was won with a call of a 9 Bam discard. Also, the prevailing wind was N, as was the seat wind of the winner---thus none of those Fan elements applied. So when we first scored the hand we awarded 64 points for "Little Four Winds," 32 points for "All Terminals & Honors," and 6 points for "Half Flush." Then we added the obligatory 8 points for the successful "Hu" and 2 more points for melded Flowers---for a total of 112 points.
    >
    >But after further thought I wondered whether the Half Flush points were justified. I had talked myself out of those points when I considered that Little Four Winds requires only one more set (Kong, Pung, or Chow) to complete the win. That set will necessarily be either Honors or Suit Tiles. If it is Honors, clearly the hand will qualify for 32 additional points for "All Honors." But if the extra set is Suit Tiles, does the hand qualify for the lesser award of 6 points for Half Flush?
    >
    >It seems to me when this scenario---there being only two, semi-implied, possibilities, Chinese official scoring allows the award of the larger Fan score but not the smaller. For example, a player winning with an "Seven Pairs" hand either calls the winning tile or draws it from the wall. Thus one might argue that the player is entitled to either 2 points for a "Concealed Hand" or 4 points for a "Fully Concealed Hand." But official scoring clearly excludes the 2-point Concealed Hand award. So consistency would dictate that the same approach be used in the Little Four Winds situation. Maybe that's an unfair expectation, given the organic evolution of the game's details.
    >
    >To further complicate matters, I consulted a popular website---Mahjong.com (https://mahjong.com/chinese-official-mahjong-scoring-7.html)---and studied their Example #51 (on Page 7) only to find that the 6 points for Half Flush were to be awarded. Do you have any incites on this type of situation? Thanking you in advance for your valued thoughts, I am
    >Ken A in Red Lodge, Montana

    Hi, Ken.
    As you noted: It isn't inevitable that Little Four Winds must always come with a pung of suit tiles. The other possibility is that the pung could be a dragon. Half Flush is actually the lesser of the two possible combinations, the other being All Honors. So I don't know why you question whether Half Flush can be combined. Anything that isn't inevitable (implied).
    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
    July 12, 2016


    Can I use a consecutive number instead of a dragon?

    >From: Barbara H
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 12, 2016 4:47 PM
    >Subject: Matching dragons
    >Is matching dragons -
    >1112222333DDDD(red)
    >Can I use 4 -4 cracks instead of the red dragon?
    >not sure how matching dragons aare used
    >Thank you
    >Barbara

    Hi, Barbara. You're actually asking either two or three questions. I'm going to answer two, and I'm not sure if you have a third question:

    Can I use 4 -4 cracks instead of the red dragon?
    This is actually two questions. Or at least I'm giving you two answers, whether or not you thought it was just one question.

    No, you cannot substitute a number tile for a dragon. Where the card shows a D, you must use a dragon. The Consecutive Runs section does list a lot of flexible hands, and that's what makes this section of the card so powerful. But the flexibility is always spelled out clearly in the parentheticals. (Note, though, that when you see a hand with no parenthetical describing flexibility, then there isn't flexibility in that hand.)

    But the hand does not require craks or reds. Read the back of the card, and read Frequently Asked Question 19-BY and FAQ 19-J. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    not sure how matching dragons aare used
    If you have a third question, I can help if you just ask it. You clearly know that reds go with craks, so I don't know what else you might need to know about this concept.
    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
    July 12, 2016


    This week’s column, part 2

    >From: Daphne S
    >Sent: Monday, July 11, 2016 10:57 AM
    >Subject: Re: Column#655
    >Hi Tom-
    >Hot tiles would be 2 Bam and 4 Bam.
    >Thank you for everything you do!
    >Daphne

    Not only are those hot tiles, they’re key tiles! If either 2B or 4B is dead on the table, you can forget about Evens and focus your defense on the other possible hands. If they aren't dead, 4C is also a hot tile.
    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, CA, USA

    7/11, 2016


    This week’s column

    >From: Daphne S
    >Sent: Monday, July 11, 2016 9:33 AM
    >Subject: Column#655
    >Hello Tom-
    >Re Column #655- Item 3. Couldn't another possibility be Evens #4?
    >Daphne

    Quite right, Daphne. Can you take it to the next step and tell us what the hot tiles are? Any new key tiles that could help the defense?
    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, CA, USA

    7/11, 2016


    New column posted

    New column is up! It's a Defense column. I had the TV on while I was writing it, so I might have messed up somewhere. If I did, let me know! (^_^)
    Tom
    Sunday, July 10, 2016


    Change of heart when picking up a discarded tile

    >From: Minnie C
    >Sent: Monday, July 4, 2016 10:29 PM
    >Subject: Question - Change of Heart
    >Hello,
    >My question is about a Change of Heart. If a player touches and picks up a discarded tile and then decides that they do not want the discarded, is this permitted? My understanding was that once you touched the discarded tile, it was your tile; no matter whether you racked it and placed other tiles with it on the top of your rack. Is this correct? If not, what is the correct rule application please?
    >Thank you.
    >Minnie C

    Hi, Minnie.
    I can't tell from the way you ask your question if you saw Jeanne P's question on June 28 (below), or if you have read FAQ 19-AM, or if you checked out the sources for the answer in FAQ 19-AM. One of those sources is a written response from the League to Lynn McD on March 2, 2015. She sent me a photo of that response, and FAQ 19-AM's source citation includes a link to http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive34.htm#nmjl150302, where you see this:

    FAQ 19-AM also cites the 2007 newsletter from the League. I realize that the majority of players who get the newsletter don't keep them as I do. In the 2007 newsletter, it says essentially the same thing as the reply to Lynn. The flaw with the League's ruling in 2007 and to Lynn in 2015 is that the rule addresses placement of a discarded tile onto the rack, but not the act of lifting the discarded tile from the table. I believe the League said (in a newsletter) that a player could put a lifted discard back on the table, but I don't have time to pore through 18 or 19 newsletters to find that this morning. If you want to know definitively if a lifted discard may be replaced, you should do what Lynn McD did - send the question with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the League.
    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
    July 5, 2016


    Tips on how to find games and play in Japan and Thailand

    >From: Beth B
    >Sent: Sunday, July 3, 2016 10:00 AM
    >Subject: Japan
    >Hello Tom,
    >I am planning a trip to Japan in Mid September. I am going on my own and then heading to Bangkok.
    >I am presently playing Chinese Mahjong (or a version of...two women from Hong Kong are kind enough to oversee a roomful of us) at the Cypress Senior Center two days a week and American Mahjong one day a week...I have attended about five american tourneys and finished in the top fifty percent.
    >The reason I am writing is that I would love to play mahjong while in Asia. Can you please give some tips on how to find games.
    >Thank you!
    >Beth
    >[Telephone number deleted]

    >From: Equipro via PayPal
    >Sent: Sunday, July 3, 2016 9:54 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Equipro (bethb...)
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Equipro (bethb...). You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Equipro
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Beth, thanks for the $10, but my answer is not likely to make you happy.
    In Japan, players are very hardcore, and usually don't speak English. There are English-speaking pro players but they are coming to the US in September. In Japanese parlors they play only Japanese riichi-dora majan, which is very different from Hong Kong style. You can ask the concierge of your hotel to help you find a parlor, but many parlors don't accept individual walk-ins (they expect a player to bring 3 other players along with him). You would also need a translator, one who's conversant with mah-jongg terms in both English and Japanese.
    I can't tell you anything about mah-jongg in Bangkok.
    I hope you enjoy your trip!
    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
    July 3, 2016


    Is it technically not jokerless if there was a joker in it at one time?

    From: Marilyn M
    Sent: Thursday, June 30, 2016 7:13 PM
    Subject: Jokerless hands
    Dear Tom,
    I could not find the answer to this question on your site so am asking here.
    Played with someone who thinks you cannot have a jokerless hand if at any point in the game you had an exposure with a joker that was traded for the correct tile prior to getting mah Jong without a joker in your hand. I say that is not accurate. Can you please set us straight?
    Thanks so much
    Marilyn.

    Hi, Marilyn.
    It's possible that what she's saying was the rule at one time, but the League has said several times in recent yearly newsletters that a hand that's jokerless at the time of mah-jongg is truly jokerless, and the jokerless bonus is due. You can send a self-addressed stamped envelope together with your written question to the League, to get the official ruling.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 30, 2016


    Does she discard after she was called dead?

    >From: JoAnn S
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2016 7:10 PM
    >Subject: dead hand
    >player A has two parts to a hand on her rack she picks up a tile and displays
    >the third part of the hand which is now clear that this is a concealed hand, the players call her dead, does she still have to make a discard or do we just continue with the game??

    JoAnn, Louise asked me the exact same question 3 days ago, on the 26th (below). Please scroll down and read the response I gave Lou, and please read FAQ 19-CK. You can link to the Frequently Asked Questions above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 2, 2016


    She, too, had a "change of heart"

    >From: Jeanne P
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2016 8:43 PM
    >Subject: Calling a discard
    >If a player calls for a tile, picks it up but does not expose any tiles on her rack, may she change her mind and put the tile back on the table?
    >Thanks for the help.

    Hi, Jeanne.
    As I told Paula earlier today, the "change of heart" FAQ is FAQ 19-AM. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    June 28, 2016


    She had a "change of heart"

    >From: Paula J
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2016 7:09 AM
    >Subject: MJ question
    >A player redeems a joker and realizes she needs the tile for a single set in her hand. She has the joker racked. Can she change her mind and put the joker back and take her tile?
    >Thank you,
    >Paula

    Hi, Paula.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-AM. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    June 28, 2016


    A very rare event!

    >From: Beth G
    >Sent: Monday, June 27, 2016 6:36 PM
    >Subject: What are the odds? Making Mah-Jongg Immediately after Charleston!
    >Hi Tom.
    >Today, during our weekly Mah-Jongg game, something happened that NONE of us had ever seen or heard of! We completed the Charleston, and East looked up and said she could not discard a tile, then, after a dramatic pause, went on to say that she couldn't because she had Mah-jongg!
    >I could not find any references to this anywhere, and am wondering if you have ever seen this happen. Any sense of what the odds would be of this?
    >Amazing!
    >Cheers,
    >Beth G

    Hi, Beth. Very cool story! You wrote:

    I could not find any references to this anywhere
    Well, I wrote of an even rarer event, "Heavenly Hand," in FAQ 19-BJ and column 476. You can link to the FAQs and columns above left.

    and am wondering if you have ever seen this happen.
    Nope.

    Any sense of what the odds would be of this?
    No, but FAQ 19-CI lists some books on probabilities and statistics. If you find the answer, please let us 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
    June 27, 2016


    Animal flowers, and enjoying the autumn moon

    >From: Suzanne C
    >Sent: Saturday, June 25, 2016 4:58 PM
    >Subject: question on animal tiles and comment on FAQ 7e from Johni & Lori
    >Dear Mr. Sloper,
    >I am new to writing to your FAQs and don’t know if this is the proper way to send my question. I am 75 and not very computer savvy. I do read many of your FAQs as well as your book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind. I apologize if this is incorrect. I did follow your instructions and read all of FAQ 7, 7e Mystery Tiles, before sending my question.
    >
    >I am Suzanne C and I live in South Texas. I learned Mah Jong from my mother, who lived in the Philippines about 1938. She taught the cleared hand version, I guess the early part of the “Mah Jong wars”. About 25 years later I lived in Taiwan and played with a group of women using the book by Strauser and Evans, Mah Jong, Anyone? Now, I am teaching a few close friends who want to learn the game. I am writing notes for them and I like to include some background or brief history with these notes to make the experience more interesting.
    >
    >My question is about the history of the use of the animal tiles. I originally assumed the idea of the cat capturing the mouse or the rich man grabbing the bag of gold, to be something the women made up during the period of making up special hands in the 1920’s. Then I realized that animal tiles seemed to be found in old sets way before the 1920’s. From your FAQs it seemed that Singapore was the area where animal tiles were included with flower tiles, but I cannot find any information that they used these tiles to capture another tile as a predator-prey relationship. My mother’s set contained the cat/mouse and rich man/gold tiles, but these tiles only gave extra points and doubles. It was not until I played in Taiwan, that I learned about this aspect of the animal tiles. So, did some Chinese players invent this, or was this a Westernized idea? I am guessing it came from a small area in China or elsewhere in the Orient. In Taiwan the sets only had 8 flowers, but there were 4 extra blank tiles that were taken to carvers to create the 4 animal tiles. There doesn’t seem to be much information about this. Mah Jong, Anyone? seems to be only place this has been taught, but there is not any background.
    >
    >In your FAQ 7-7e from Johni and Lori, Sept., 2008, there was much discussion about the meaning of 2 sets of flower tiles. The top row was translated, put in the proper order of ESWN, and then said, mid-autumn-enjoy/appreciate-moon. This jogged my memory. I remember in Taiwan that the Chinese neighbors celebrated the Moon Festival. They would sit outside during the whole night, watch the moon, and eat moon cakes. I am not sure when this occurred, but I think it might have been in the fall. Perhaps this might be a clue to the meaning of those flower tiles.
    >
    >I have really enjoyed your book, especially the wonderful research you have done on the history. I enjoy the game very much, but also love history. I also enjoyed your pictures on your trip to Ningbo and the Mah Jong Museum.
    >I am sorry if this is the wrong way to ask a FAQ and this is sort of long. I appreciate your time.
    >Sincerely, Suzanne C

    Hi, Suzanne. You wrote:

    My question is about the history of the use of the animal tiles. I originally assumed the idea of the cat capturing the mouse or the rich man grabbing the bag of gold, to be something the women made up during the period of making up special hands in the 1920’s.
    I have never come across any documentation of the origin of animal tiles. I have also not come across any documentation of the period between 1924 and 1937 in America, or what women across the continent did with the rules then. I have to assume that the animal tiles were created in Asia, not America. As Ray Heaton has written, the tiles seem to be based on Chinese folk tales, legends, and lore.

    Then I realized that animal tiles seemed to be found in old sets way before the 1920’s.
    I have never seen Singapore-style animal flowers in any sets from before the 1930s. Can you show me evidence otherwise?

    I cannot find any information that they used these tiles to capture another tile as a predator-prey relationship.
    I assume you were looking for printed information. The only description I found of that in print was in "Mahjong, Anyone?" by Strauser & Evans, the first edition.

    My mother’s set contained the cat/mouse and rich man/gold tiles, but these tiles only gave extra points and doubles.
    That's the way you were told those tiles were used. Or are you saying that your mother's set had printed instructions, which said nothing about this capture option?

    In Taiwan the sets only had 8 flowers, but there were 4 extra blank tiles that were taken to carvers to create the 4 animal tiles.
    Sets have come with 4 extra blanks since the 1920s. Their purpose is to be used as replacements should a tile be lost.

    In your FAQ 7-7e from Johni and Lori, Sept., 2008... The top row was translated, put in the proper order of ESWN, and then said, mid-autumn-enjoy/appreciate-moon. This jogged my memory. I remember in Taiwan that the Chinese neighbors celebrated the Moon Festival. They would sit outside during the whole night, watch the moon, and eat moon cakes. I am not sure when this occurred, but I think it might have been in the fall. Perhaps this might be a clue to the meaning of those flower tiles.
    Certainly. That's what Amy Chapman said on June 6, 2010 (just beneath the image from Johni and Lori): "中秋賞月 is a clear reference to celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival." Also see the Wikipedia entry on Mid-Autumn Festival, which refers to moon worship and mooncakes, and says that the festival is also called "Moon Festival."

    I am sorry if this is the wrong way to ask a FAQ
    You certainly didn't ask your question in a wrong way. But the Question you asked has not been Asked Frequently, so it actually wasn't a Frequently Asked Question at all. (The "right way" to ask an FAQ is to not ask it at all, but instead to find the answer in the FAQs.) You did the right thing - you emailed an interesting question, with accompanying information.
    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
    June 26, 2016


    Does she discard after she was called dead?

    >From: Louise
    >Sent: Sunday, June 26, 2016 5:06 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player called for a tile, exposed, then called herself dead (I know you’re not supposed to, but we all agreed she was ). But she hadn’t discarded yet. Since we all agreed she was dead, did she have to discard a tile?
    >Lou

    Louise,
    A dead player doesn't make any kind of play. She simply stops playing. I guess I need to add this to FAQ 19. I guess it's a new FAQ, so it'll be 19-CK. (I really need to reorganize them all...)
    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
    June 26, 2016


    MJ trumps all, right? (Part 4)

    After some thought, another scenario:

    Player A is pretty sure she's close to mah-jongg. She watches player D discard 3B. Not a tile player A wants, so player A reaches for the wall, takes a tile, and racks it. The window of opportunity is now closed on the 3B, and whatever happens next is not likely to be controversial.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 22, 2016


    MJ trumps all, right? (Part 3)

    >From: Sam A
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 6:51 AM
    >Subject: Sloper on Mah-Jongg - The Window of Opportunity, v1.0
    >http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/column458a.htm
    >This is what I read. The last paragraph of the article states pretty much what happened in my case. Once again thank you for your time. Here is a quote from the article. "If someone voices a claim for the live discard while the picker sees that the tile she's taken is her mj tile,, then she doesn't have to put that tile back on the wall and she gets to declare mj." This is the last paragraph of the column 458.

    Hi, Sam. Okay, I see now. Let's consider some different scenarios.

    Player A is waiting for mah-jongg. She knows she can win on 7D or 7C or F or Joker, let's say. She watches player D to see if one of her maj tiles is thrown. Player D discards 3B. Not a maj tile for player A, so player A reaches for the wall, takes a tile, and looks at it (holding it in the air, unracked), and instantly observes that it is indeed one of her maj tiles, but before she can say "maj" player C says "I want that." Before player C can expose tiles from her hand, player A says "no, this is mah-jongg," and exposes her hand.

    Player D discards 3B. Player A reaches for the wall, takes a tile, and looks at it (holding it in the air, unracked), and thinks about whether or not that tile is something she wants.
    And thinks.
    And thinks.
    Player C says, "I want that." Then a discussion ensues, and disharmony prevails.

    What I wrote in column 458 describes scenario 1. What you wrote me sounded to me like scenario 2, which is why I replied the way I did yesterday. Be sure ahead of time (before you pick a tile and hold it unracked in the air) that one or more certain tiles will definitely complete your hand, and act decisively. It's better for everyone, and more conducive to harmonious play.

    Hope that clarifies?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 22, 2016


    MJ trumps all, right? (Part 2)

    >From: Sam A
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 9:20 PM
    >Subject: RE: Window of opportunity
    >Thank you for your quick response. Before contacting you originally I read your q and a board and discussion on 458. I thought my situation fit what you wrote in the last paragraph. And I was just confirming that but now I'm totally confused. I did say it was my mj tile after she called the tile. I seem to be misunderstanding what you wrote. If possible could you clarify. Thank you again. I want to get this right.

    >From: Sam A
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 10:07 PM
    >Subject: PS
    >She called the 3 bam but did not pick it up because I said I had my mj tile. Official tournament rules say if you pick your mj tile from the wall you MAY rack it. It doesn't say you must. That confuses the situation more.

    Sam, that's right. You did not violate any rules by keeping the window of opportunity open for someone else to try to shut it on you. The problem is that you left the window of opportunity open for someone else to try to climb right on through it, and someone did!
    I'm sorry you're still confused. You say there's a contradiction between my answer of yesterday and something else I wrote. If you tell me exactly what I said that's contradictory, I'll try to resolve 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
    June 22, 2016


    Explaining one mystery, part 5

    >From: Raymond L
    >Sent: Monday, June 20, 2016 11:00 AM
    >Subject: Re: More obscure dora tiles and the Thai set
    >Hi Tom,
    >The key things from my last email that you can share with your readers is that there are red terminals which you can add to 13c, that modern Vietnamese sets can come with 188 tiles but only 184 will be used as four of the tiles are alternate jokers, and that the red 皇 tile in 7e is also found in Vietnamese mahjong, possibly as a flower joker.
    >Best regards,
    >Ray L.

    Thanks, Ray. I'll add that info to those FAQs.
    Regards,
    Tom


    MJ trumps all, right?

    >From: Sam A
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 5:48 PM
    >Subject: Window of opportunity
    >A 3 bam was discarded. My turn next and I picked a 7 dot. I was doing the like hand with 7s. I was holding the tile and checking to see if I had all the right tiles for mj. Before I could call mj another player called the 3 bam. We had a discussion but no one really seemed to know the rule that mj trumps all. In other words I get to keep the tile for mj. Am I right? Thanks for your help.

    Sam, it sounds to me like you were too slow, and the other person gets the tile. But I wasn't there. You were sitting there holding the tile, in other words holding the window open for somebody to shut it on you, and then when the other person spoke, what did you do? What I would have done is either racked the tile while thinking, or as soon as the other person started to speak, I'd talk over her and say "Mah-jongg." Or if she spoke too quickly, I might speak over her last syllable and say, "No, it's mah-jongg," and show the tile, then show my hand quickly, before she can pick up the live discard. It isn't always a race, but sometimes you have to be quick.
    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
    June 21, 2016


    Do you still do that?

    >From: Gwen
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 9:47 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong set
    >Good morning,
    >My name is Gwen and I have an old set given to me by great Aunt (who received it from a sailor boyfriend). I'm looking for an estimate of it's worth and out of much online searching I think you're the fellow to help me. I'm emailing to check if you are still providing this service and await your response or (if no longer available) the lack of said response .??
    >Sincerely
    >Gwen B
    >British Columbia. Canada (eh)

    Hi, Gwen.
    I'm still alive and well. Please read Frequently Asked Question 7-H, and send me the information I need, if you want a free valuation. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 21, 2016


    Does the number of flowers in a set have any significance in determining its age?

    >From: Sandee C
    >Sent: Thursday, June 16, 2016 5:31 PM
    >Subject: age of bakelite set
    >i just purchased a bakelite mahjongg set and it has 27 flowers, does that have any signifacence in judging the age of the product.
    >thank you.
    >sandee c

    Hi, Sandee.
    Have you checked Frequently Asked Question 19-AI or column 509? You can link to the FAQs and columns above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    June 16, 2016


    Donation

    >From: Nancy D via Paypal
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 15, 2016 6:06 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Nancy D
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Nancy D. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Nancy D
    >Message: A small donation to help. I appreciate being able to get the Mah Jongg information on your website. Thanks, Nancy D
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Nancy!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom


    Table talk, part 3

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 10:04 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Great Column #654 “Table Talk” June 12, 2016. Hopefully enough players will read this column, maybe see themselves, and learn to be quiet and show their “poker face”. I have been practicing mine these past few days! I know ladies especially redheads have a hard time not saying what they thinking and I speak from experience. Thank you for the answer to my previous question and for writing this great column. Poker face Lynn P

    (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you, Lynn.
    Tom


    Holding back, part ∑

    >From: Mary E
    >Sent: Monday, June 13, 2016 8:39 PM
    >Subject: response to the "holding/held back'
    >?Hi, again, Tom,
    >I do, indeed, thank you most heartily for getting back to me so quickly with your ideas. This sounded very sneaky but worth considering, strategy-wise, esp. if one were to play for money/points, which I do not.
    >You mean to tell me you didn't recognize my '7' as a backwards "F'....... ?? It wasn't until I started using your site that I realized what Control F was for! I use it all the time now! And thanks for that, too!!
    >High regards,
    >Mary

    High regards back atcha, Mary! I rhink it's a valid strategy when redeeming from someone else's rack, or when you pick the joker after having made the exposure. But the way she did it bordered on the underhanded. Sorry your smiley emoji didn't survive the conversion to 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
    June 13, 2016


    Holding back, part 2

    >From: Mary E
    >Sent: Monday, June 13, 2016 10:00 AM
    >Subject: "Holding Back" (not the same as in your FAQ response which I Ctrl 7'd to find)
    >Hi, Tom,
    >Just came across this scenario on Mah Jongg Mentor today from a lady who was at a recent (2016) tournament. I teach American MJ and I doubt I'll ever play in a tournament (I think it would be too stressful for me!) but it's a question that might someday come up (I edited slightly for clarification and parentheticals are mine) and I'd like your opinion please:
    >But today I experienced something that truly feels wrong. It was all legal but it was still not nice in my eyes. But in the last round I learned something — it is a strategy called “holding back”. Now I had never heard of it because I guess I am not cutthroat. Here is the scenario. Player B calls for an 8 Bam. She places on her rack an 8 Bam, Joker, Joker and another 8 Bam but then removes the second 8 Bam and replaces it with another Joker. I thought that was strange but maybe she had a reason for it or whatever. (We know this is legal).
    >A couple of plays later, an 8 crack was thrown.
    >Player B called for the 8 crack, placing it on her rack with 3 other 8 cracks. Then she replaced (her) Joker with the 8 Bam and declared Mah Jongg revealing 3 flowers now with the Joker and 2 eight dots – claiming a self pick. (That is what my question is about).My neighbor player immediately questioned the validity of this play and brought the director over. (She doesn't state the ruling here.) Player B explained that this is called "holding back". It is a strategy used to allow for a self pick reward of extra points when you win on the hand. She clearly “called” for the 8 crack first and then made the changes in her hand to make it a winning hand. So legally it was viable but I thought it was a sneaky move.

    >Thanks, Mary E

    Hi, Mary.
    I'm guessing that Mah Jongg Mentor must be the source of the term Ellen T asked about on June 2. I asked her to give me the phrase in context, and to let me know if my guess as to the term's meaning fit with what she'd read. But she never got back to me. That happens a lot; people ask me something, I answer, and they never come back to say thank you, or to follow up on the matter in any way. I don't know why Ellen wrote me to ask for clarification on the phrase, when it's clearly described in the article on Mah Jongg Mentor. Maybe she just didn't want to read 3 or 4 paragraphs, and was hoping I'd describe it more briefly. I think she shot herself in the foot by not providing more information with her question. But let's take a look at the situation described in the article, in brief (which I could have done for Ellen T if she'd just told me the source).

    The player "held back" a redeemable tile, so she could redeem it as her last play and thus claim self-pick. In fact, she tipped her hand (revealing her ploy) when she initially exposed the tile and quickly replaced it with a joker. I agree that it's a sneaky move, definitely. Taking advantage of a loophole in the rules. The rules do have loopholes. This is one. There's no rule against doing this, so it is legal. It's even a valid strategy. In this case, she redeemed a joker atop her own rack, which makes it seem sneakier than if she redeemed it atop someone else's - but as I said, the really sneaky part is that she clearly planned it from the moment she made the exposure with jokers.

    By the way, this board is not an FAQ - it's Q&A (people ask questions, I answer them). If somebody asks a question that's been asked frequently before, then I refer them to the FAQs. So Q&A is an entirely different thing from FAQs; Q&A is real-time, meaning you can ask me a question now, and you'll get an answer soon. But the FAQs are archived, meaning you can just go there and find the canned answer that's already been written. That's how FAQs are different from Q&As.
    And I don't know what Control-7 does. I use Chrome as my browser (I'm running Windows 10 on a PC), and control-7 doesn't do anything. I also tried control-F7. That didn't do anything either. I use control-F all the time to find things on a web page, and I use Google to find information (even on my own website). I googled "Control-7" but wasn't able to find any information on 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
    June 2, 2016


    Table Talk (part 2)

    >From: Beth P
    >Sent: Monday, June 13, 2016 7:26 AM
    >Subject: Table talk
    >I had played Mah Jongg for two years and still considered myself new at the game when I was invited to play with some experienced players. I was nervous. I discarded a redeemable tile (by mistake) and someone made a comment about it. It was done and too late so I made no gasp or expression whatsoever. By luck, in the next 3 turns, I drew 3 needed tiles including my MJ tile and made a jokerless hand. These players were impressed thinking I had had a "method to my madness".
    >Sloper gets the credit as I have learned much from your web site.
    >Thanks. Beth

    Hi, Beth. I'm guessing you read yesterday's column. Well played, Grasshopper!

    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
    June 13, 2016


    She just blurts out unwelcome observations (Table talk, part 1)

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Saturday, June 11, 2016 7:18 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is Playing American Mah Jongg, one player has three 4 bams and a joker exposed. Next player picks a 4 bam and discards it. Another player questions whether or not she wanted the joker among the three 4 bams that were exposed. Is this questioning the thing to do or should the other 3 players just continue playing without commenting? I would prefer that no comment be made if I was the one who discarded the 4 bam tile especially if I had wanted that joker. I realize that sometimes a player doesn’t want to make another player jokerless so doesn’t redeem a joker that is exposed. Sometimes the player is not paying attention to others’ exposures and really wanted that joker and could kick herself for missing the exposed joker. Does it really matter what is said or is there any etiquette regarding this occurrence? I know there is no rule regarding this. Thanks again for your help and just to let you know that nasty player I emailed you about last month went back to her other house for the summer but let it be known she will receive an email from me when she returns as to the proper placement of a called discard. I value all your answers. Enjoy your summer. Lynn P

    Hi, Lynn. You wrote:

    Is this questioning the thing to do
    You have a sophisticated understanding of, and appreciation for, the finer points of strategy and etiquette... and she does not. It might be futile to try and educate her and bring her up to your level.

    should the other 3 players just continue playing without commenting?
    I maintain a façade of implacable inscrutability* in such situations.
    * Read: "poker face."

    I would prefer that no comment be made if I was the one who discarded the 4 bam tile especially if I had wanted that joker. ... Sometimes the player is not paying attention to others’ exposures and really wanted that joker and could kick herself for missing the exposed joker.
    Of course. Let me describe a situation I've been in more than once. I pick a tile and discard it, then realize that [doh!] I should have redeemed it. An opponent silently and subtly (without any head movements) shoots me a quizzical look. I maintain a façade of implacable inscrutability, possibly with the slightest of smirks. She sighs inaudibly. The other players notice nothing, or if they notice what I discarded, they say nothing. (Can you tell from the foregoing that I play with people who have a sophisticated understanding and appreciation for the finer points of strategy, and table manners?)

    Does it really matter what is said or is there any etiquette regarding this occurrence?
    You know that she who blurts without the ability to meter her thoughts-to-verbalizations* has a predictable behavior, which you can use in your strategy and/or in your behavior at the table.
    * Read: no faucet valve that shuts off thoughts before they emerge audibly from the mouth and vocal cords. Also known as "blurting," the verbal issuance of divulgences impulsively, inadvertently, and/or unadvisedly.

    Some women are constantly in "sharing" mode among friends, and cannot turn it off even during a competitive game. You know that's what she does, so you can use that understanding to your advantage. You also have the ability to keep your own lips zipped after she blurts, and that's a rare ability - a trait of the most highly skilled players.

    The official Chinese rules prohibit and penalize table talk (they call it "giving information"). It's a shame that the American rules include no such thing.

    I think this is a great topic for a column!
    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
    June 12, 2016


    She exposed a pung with two jokers!?

    >From: Adrienne G
    >Sent: Friday, June 10, 2016 9:55 PM
    >Subject: question
    >Hi,
    >A situation came up at my beginner group's game, and I want to check the rules with you. A player called a 7 bam, and then used the 7 bam and two jokers from her rack to expose a Pung. Is that a "legal" move?
    >Adrienne

    Hi, Adrienne.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-L. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    June 11, 2016


    Explaining one mystery, part 4*

    >From: Raymond L
    >Sent: Thursday, June 9, 2016 2:29 PM
    >Subject: Re: More obscure dora tiles and the Thai set
    >Hi Tom,
    >I read your article on the first issue of The Mahjong Collector and I encountered some new tiles you may be interested in. I've been searching for the "皇" mystery tile in FAQ 7e and may have found the answer but it is quite long of I'm attaching it to this email. Feel free to break it into smaller pieces.
    >Best regards,
    >Ray L.
    Attachment: Current trends in Vietnamese and Japanese tiles.doc

    Hi, Ray.
    There's a lot of interesting stuff in there. Too much work for me to try to convert it to HTML, if your intention was to share it with my readers. If you want me to share it with my readers, I can make the file available in my "downlode" folder. Thanks for sharing your findings with me.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 2, 2016

    * (Counting "Putting two and two together" as part 3)


    I think I can call her dead, part 2

    >From: Bernice V
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 10:08 PM
    >Subject: Re: Dead Hand
    >Thanks so much!!
    >Bernice V


    I think I can call her dead....what do you say??

    >From: Bernice V
    >To: Questions Sloper
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 5:20 PM
    >Subject: Dead Hand
    >If a player is playing a winds hand and has 4 easts and 4 wests exposed and I have three souths in my hand and there are 4 whites on the table....I think I can call her dead....what do you say??
    >Bernice V

    Hi, Bernice. Your question is ambiguous:

    I think I can call her dead....what do you say??
    There are 3 different ways your question can be interpreted:

    Under the rules of the National Mah Jongg League, am I allowed to call her dead?
    Yes. Players are permitted to call someone dead. See the rulebook; the death challenge is mentioned on pages 16 and 18. Also see the yearly newsletters for clarifications on the rules surrounding death challenges.

    Is it good strategy to call her dead?
    If someone's exposures show conclusively, based on exposed or discarded tiles visible to all, that she cannot make a valid hand, or that she is exposing a concealed hand, it is excellent strategy to call her dead, since you can get more picks from the wall.

    Based on her exposures, would I be correct to call her dead?
    Nobody but you knows that she'll never be able to get a 2nd South. It's a secret of which only you are aware. She's not dead if you discard one of yours, so you can't call her dead. All you can do is not discard a South.

    Okay, so I thought of a 4th one. So shoot me! Is it bad etiquette to call someone dead? My group never calls anyone dead.
    It's not bad etiquette to call someone dead, but when in Rome, do as the Romans do, even though they're silly Romans.

    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
    June 8, 2016


    What do you know about Mah Jongg, part 2

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 7, 2016 8:56 PM
    >Subject: Fwd: Hello Donna Eschen,
    >Tom,
    >I got the first email tonight like you did and I responded and said, 'please clarify what you are looking for'.
    >Here is email number two. I just deleted it. I see a scam here!
    >Donna
    >Begin forwarded message:
    >From: James Graham <james.graham115@outlook.com>
    >Date: June 7, 2016 at 7:11:34 PM PDT
    >To: Donna
    >Subject: Hello Donna E
    >Hello Donna E
    >I want to partner with you, i had a Mah Jongg instructor that passed away and since then nothing has been done about tracing his family and relatives, i am his personal attorney and he has fund which will soon be confiscated if nothing is done and that is the reason i have contacted you so that we can partner together concerning this transaction which will not cause any problem for me and you.
    >Can i trust you about this? feel free with me and ask me any question and i will clarify you.
    >Take care and let me hear from you.
    >Regards,
    >James Graham.

    Hi, Donna.
    He's most definitely a scammer. Let's all email him and offer him a fortune left by our departed uncles who were Nigerian princes before they got stuck penniless in Switzerland and starved while waiting for us to send a wire for $300... Or make up something else just as outlandish... Or just delete his email. Whatever.
    So I guess James' departed mah-jongg instructor was mysteriously wealthy, hmm? A good personal attorney would figure out a way to get hold of that wealth without involving strangers from the internet, don't you think?
    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
    June 7, 2016


    What do you know about Mah Jongg instructor ? Where are you located now?

    From: James Graham <james.graham115@outlook.com>
    To: [blank]
    Sent: Tuesday, June 7, 2016 5:43 PM
    Subject: What do you know about Mah Jongg instructor ?
    Hello,
    What do you know about Mah Jongg instructor ?
    Where are you located now?
    Take care and let me hear from you.
    Sincerely,
    James Graham.

    Hi, James.
    I have to tell you, I'm very suspicious of your email. It was in my spam folder, for one thing. And the "To:" line was blank, for another. And your question is vague in the extreme. It's as if you are not familiar with the English language, and are not familiar with Western norms of communication.
    Perhaps you are looking for someone to teach you mah-jongg? If so, where are YOU located?
    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
    June 7, 2016

    [Dear readers, note - I do not recommend you contact James, until and unless he responds and clarifies his query. Also, if any players or teachers whose contact info is on this site receive similar emails from James, please let me know right away! - Tom]


    2 FAQs about the dealer's wall

    >From: Carroll L
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 7, 2016 6:26 PM
    >Subject: Question
    >Good evening Tom,
    >I have a couple of questions re American Mah-jongg.
    >Question 1: Why do we break a wall?
    >Question 2: After wall has been broken and put aside and all other walls have been played,
    >and it is time to bring out the last remaining wall. Is it a rule that the last remaining tiles in
    >that wall can not be “called”
    >Thank you, I really enjoy your site,
    >Carroll L

    Hi, Carroll. Your 2 answers:
    Read Frequently Asked Question 19-AP. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    Read Frequently Asked Question 19-Y. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    June 7, 2016


    Which ones are my winds, dragons, and flowers, part 3

    >From: Ray H
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 7, 2016 12:13 AM
    >Subject: Booklet-Magic_Dragon_Set-1.pdf
    >Tom,
    >You may have missed this posted on the Mah Jongg Collectors Facebook group...the file was uploaded by Jan Fenner a couple of weeks back.
    >Ray
    >Attachment: Booklet-Magic_Dragon_Set-1.pdf

    Ray, you're amazing. I had indeed missed that. I'll put this in my downlode folder with other downloadable mah-jongg-related resources. http://www.sloperama.com/downlode/mahjongg/
    Skimming through the booklet, the game is clearly based on mah-jongg, by someone in Missouri named Jeng. In the 2000s, I was contacted by someone in Toronto who had done a similar thing - created a set of mah-jongg-like tiles designed to look less intimidating to players, and a set of rules to be easier to learn than mah-jongg. I guess it's an idea that somebody pursues every now and again.
    Anyway, thanks very much, Ray. 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
    June 7, 2016


    My Hispanic-theme decoupage, part 2

    >From: Linda K
    >Sent: Monday, June 6, 2016 6:49 PM
    >Subject: Re: Fwd: Majong tiles pic
    >Very interesting! You are exactly right, both have decals.
    >These are all of the tiles I have, they came from an estate sale, I found them interesting and beautiful. Thank you for your insight.

    You're welcome. One problem with estate sales is that sometimes they separate things that ought to be sold together. Somebody else might have gotten the rest of the tiles from your 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
    6/6/16


    Which ones are my winds, dragons, and flowers, part 2 (continued from April 25, 2014) - and a donation

    >From: Dinah B
    >Sent: Monday, June 6, 2016 5:46 PM
    >Subject: Answer to a question asked in FAQ 7e
    >Hi Tom,
    >I started Mah Jongg a year and a half ago, and am totally hooked. I love your site, and have poured over almost every word and picture. While reading the FAQ, I came across one that I had found more info on, and thought you would want this info too.
    >Thanks for reading.
    >Dinah
    >*****
    >In regard to FAQ 7e. Those Mysterious Special Tiles...
    >The last question -
    >>"Which ones are my winds, dragons, and flowers?
    >> From: vivian m
    >> Sent: Friday, April 25, 2014 2:45 PM
    >> Subject: Can you identify winds and flowers in this set?
    >>This set has 4 of each of the pictured tiles, plus 8 jokers made with stickers on blanks. My question concerns the bottom row. I infer that 1,2,3 are white, red, and green dragons, respectively. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) I assume the 24 tiles represented by 4-9 are flowers and winds. Can you identify them for me?
    >>Thanks.
    >> Vivian M"
    >
    >*****
    >The reason these tiles are so puzzling is that this is not a Mah Jongg set at all. It is a similar game called "Magic Dragon". I came across it listed on ebay as a MJ set, and then found it accidentally while researching something else:
    >https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/225168/magic-dragon
    >The Mah Jongg Museum has a picture of the box and tiles
    >http://www.mahjongmuseum.com/mj023.htm

    >From: Dinah B via PayPal
    >Sent: Monday, June 6, 2016 5:51 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Dinah B
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Dinah B. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Dinah B
    >Message: Thank you for the great resource you provide. I have your book also.
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Hi, Dinah -
    Great work, finding that set on the MahjongMuseum! I never saw that there. Now if only I could see the rules for that game so I could see if it's at all mah-jongg-like! And thanks very much for the donation.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    6/6/16


    My Hispanic-theme decoupage tiles

    >From: Linda K
    >Sent: Monday, June 6, 2016 7:25 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: Majong tiles pic
    >---------- Forwarded message ----------
    >From: Linda K
    >Date: Mon, Jun 6, 2016 at 10:13 AM
    >Subject: Majong tiles pic
    >To: LINDA K
    >I recently came upon these tiles, which I admire for their artistic beauty; each is a miniature work of art.
    >I have since learned that they are indeed mahjong tiles, but I have yet to find any information on the lower tiles in the photo, they have Hispanic images which appear to have been decoupaged onto the tile which is bamboo backed. Are you familiar with these types of tiles? If so, can you tell m e more about the tiles with Hispanic images? Are they mahjong tiles or for a different game?
    >Thank you for sharing your expertise.
    >Linda


    Click image to see larger version

    Hi, Linda.
    My guess is that those "Hispanic" tiles (your second image above) were stickered to make extra flowers. If you take a look at column 509, you'll see that the National Mah Jongg League required varying amounts of "wild flowers" in the 1940s and 1950s - as many as 24 flowers in 1950-1955. The original owner of your set probably made those tiles to enable NMJL play in the early fifties.
    That's my guess.
    But I am much more curious about the yellow plastic tiles in your image. I cut your image into 2 separate images, and am making them clickable to see in detail. You showed yellow plastic tiles in the upper part of your image (that's the first of the 2 above), and the bone-and-bamboo tiles in the bottom part of your image (the second image above). While your bone tiles are stickered with "Hispanic" imagery, your yellow plastic tiles have Asian designs on them. This all raises another point I want to make, which raises a question I have for you.

    When the League required players to add as many as 16 extra flowers into a set (given that a set normally came with only 8 flowers), many players had to add in mismatched tiles. It would then be no secret that some of the tiles in the wall were flowers, since those tiles (even though stacked face-down) did not match the other tiles, either in color or material or size or any combination thereof. So that's why your set has both bone/bam and plastic tiles in it.

    My question for you is: what is the rest of your set made of? Is it a bone/bam set with these added in? Or is it a yellow plastic set with these added in?

    And another question for you: your yellow plastic tiles have images of what appear to be Japanese women on them. That's unusual given the history at the time: that Japan had been a mortal enemy in the previous decade. But my question is, are those also "decoupage"? Looking closely at the Five Dot tile, for instance, and the Five Bam in the bottom row, it looks like the image was applied over the original design and has deteriorated away. It looks like those were decals, like the ones I used on model airplanes in the fifties. Those decals would be very thin and brittle, and it appears that's what I'm looking at. Seem right to you?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    6/6/16


    Do tournament winners get tax forms?

    >From: Belle M
    >Sent: Friday, June 3, 2016 5:02 PM
    >Subject: Tax forms for winners
    >Hi Tom,
    >If I attend a 3 day tournament and win $2000 should I expect a w2-g or a 1099??
    >Thanks so much,
    >Belle

    Belle, I have no idea. Why don't you ask the tournament organizers? Of course, if you do win any money, it should be reported on your taxes (whether or not the organizers report 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
    June 3, 2016


    "Holding back"

    >From: Ellen T
    >Sent: Thursday, June 2, 2016 6:14 PM
    >Subject: Holding Back
    >Hi Tom,
    >I came across this term recently and the example given to illustrate it made no sense to me. Have you heard of "holding back" and if so can you explain it?
    >Thanks,
    >Ellen

    Hi Ellen,
    I wish you could have given me the phrase in context (how someone used the phrase in a sentence, and what was going on at the time). My best guess is that whoever said that was talking about "defensive playing." Have you seen my Defense columns? When a player is showing two exposures, you can often tell what hand she's making, right? And when you know what hand she's making, and she's displaying body language that indicates she is ready to win, what do you do -- do you throw a "hot tile"? Or do you "hold back" so she doesn't win on your discard (because you don't want to be the one to have to pay her double)?
    Did that parable help explicate the possible meaning of the phrase?
    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
    June 2, 2016


    Column 653

    >From: "S... Libby"
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 1, 2016 1:48 PM
    >Subject: Column #653 Question
    >Hi, Tom! I have a question about hand #2 in column #653:
    >You say we must choose between Consec. #1 (7 tiles toward this -- I agree with this count) and Consec. #6 (9 tiles toward this -- I only come up with 8, whether we go with FF5-8 or FF6-9). That said, would you also consider Odds #5 (8 tiles toward this hand, but need the pair of 7s)? Discarding those 3 6s would be painful, but those 3 jokers help!
    >Thanks,
    >Libby

    Hi, Libby.
    As for Odds #5, not having the full pair is a strike against it, so I would not be inclined to go that way.
    As for Consec. #6, you are right - I was probably counting all three flowers, when the hand can use only two. It is indeed just eight tiles, not nine.
    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
    6/1/16


    Donation

    >From: deborah P
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 1, 2016 2:06 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from deborah P
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from deborah P. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Confirmation number:
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: deborah P
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Deborah! Much appreciated.
    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
    6/1/16


    We do only one Charleston

    >From: Mark B
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 1, 2016 11:10 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >I have been playing for one and a half years love the game, my group of ladies do only one charleston are we missing something by not doing two rounds, thanks for your help, love you're column. Peggy. My mah-jongg question or comment is:

    Hi, Peggy.
    Are you missing something? I can't tell you that. I can only tell you two things:
    It's very common to hear someone kvetch during the second Charleston, "Oy, the same junk going around again."
    Sometimes you get good tiles in the second Charleston. It's happened to me several times.
    I think it's worth having a conversation. Ask them why they never do a second Charleston. Ask them if a player is permitted to request a second Charleston. Mention that the rules specify two Charlestons (one with RALph and one with LARry). See what they say. Maybe they decided to permanently skip the second one for some reason you weren't informed of. Mention that you were never party to that decision, and that you'd like to bring it up for a new vote.
    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
    June 1, 2016


    How much does the bettor get, part 2

    >From: Sandy B
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 9:46 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >Thanks! Got It!


    Can you order copies of the Mah Jongg newsletters from previous years?

    >From: Robin M
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 6:51 PM
    >Subject: Re: Who Gets the Tile
    >Hi Tom,
    >Can you order copies of the Mah Jongg newsletters from previous years?
    >I've only been playing two years. I think it would help to have the questions and answers from previous years (after 2000).
    >I just received your book.
    >Robin

    Hi, Robin. I'm glad you have my book!
    I don't know if you can get past newsletters! You can contact the League and ask. What I did was start collecting them when I started playing. I recommend all players do the same. You don't really need to go back 15 years with them, though - they're pretty repetitive. Once you have 3 or 4 of them in a row, you've seen just about all the rulings that have been issued in the past 15 years. One never knows if the League will issue new rulings, and that's the real reason to start collecting them.


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

    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
    May 31, 2016


    How much does the bettor get?

    >From: Sandy B
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 6:14 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >The fifth player bets on a wall game. If he/she wins, how much does he/she win?

    Hi, Sandy.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-W. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    May 31, 2016


    Column 653

    >From: Fran S
    >Sent: Monday, May 30, 2016 6:47 PM
    >Subject: May 29 Sloperama Column Comment
    >Hi Tom!
    >I noticed that you missed an obvious hand for #5 of your Column #653. Rather than giving up an 8D to delay a decision for Evens #4, I would go for Evens #3, and discard either the 2D or the 4D. This hand already has its pairs for Evens #3 (the 4B, the 8D and the 8C), and the 3 jokers can be used to fill in the remaining 2Bs and 6Bs that are needed for the kongs.
    >Love your website!
    >Fran S

    >From: Fran S
    >Sent: Monday, May 30, 2016 7:06 PM
    >Subject: Column #653 Comment
    >Hi Tom!
    >It's me again! I also see a better hand for your #8 of Column #653. I see 9 tiles towards Consecutive #3, including two of the three necessary pairs. Therefore, I would toss either the 6D, 6B or the 7Ds, and go for a consecutive run of the 4C, 5C, 5D, 5B, and 6C, and pray that I don't see the remaining 5Ds tossed before I can call it for mahj!
    >Fran S

    Hi, Fran.
    You're right, that is a choice I hadn't considered. Let's count (you didn't, so let's do now): Evens #3: nine tiles. Evens #4: eight. So, good on you!
    You're right again. Nine tiles is better than eight. Nice work!
    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
    May 30, 2016


    New column posted

    New column is up! It's a WWYD (What Would You Discard). Check it out, and let me know if I screwed up somewhere! (^_^)
    Tom
    Sunday, May 29, 2016


    Can a player put a called discard into the concealed hand, part 2

    >From: Judith B
    >Sent: Friday, May 27, 2016 9:23 AM
    >Subject: Re: Legal draw?
    >You didn't interpret my question correctly. The players are picking up the previous person's discard without calling or disclosing - when they cannot complete a pun, Kong,etc. So I'm guessing this is so far from legal that you wouldn't even guess that was my question.

    Okay, Judy. You're correct - I would never have guessed that that was what you were describing. I guess your players never had a good teacher, and never read the rulebook! Get the official rulebook, and read page 14.


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

    Since nobody ever asked this question before, it's not listed in FAQ 19. But if you read FAQ 20-A, you'll see the original rule from the Chinese game (the ancestor of the American game) before your ordered copy of "Mah Jongg Made Easy" can arrive in the mail. Of course, you could also just get my book, "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," instead of (or - better - in addition to) the official rulebook! You can link to the FAQs above left.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 27, 2016


    Can next in line call the discard? Can a player put a called discard into the concealed hand?

    >From: Judith B
    >Sent: Friday, May 20, 2016 2:15 PM
    >Subject: Legal draw?
    >I'm learning American mah Jong - the group I've joined (mostly new players) besides picking tiles from the wall and calling discards, permit the player after the discarding player to pick up the discard rather than picking from the wall. Is this legal?
    >Judy B. Thank you

    Hi, Judy. Your email was in my spam folder, which is why it took so long for me to find it and reply.

    the group I've joined ... permit the player after the discarding player to pick up the discard rather than picking from the wall. Is this legal?
    If I understand your question, you're questioning whether a discard may be called by ANY player at the table (even the person whose turn follows the discarder). If I understand your question correctly, my answer is "of course - why shouldn't that player be permitted to do what either other player is permitted to do?" The only person who cannot call the fresh discard is the discarder herself.

    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
    May 26, 2016


    Using zero as an even number and/or in Consecutive Runs

    >From: ROBERT A
    >Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2016 5:35 PM
    >Subject: Fwd: Valid Mah Jongg hands
    >----- Forwarded Message -----
    > --- the forwarded message follows ---
    >----- Forwarded Message -----
    > --- the forwarded message follows ---
    >I am waiting again for a response to my second letter to the NMJL.
    >PLEASE refer to the attached copy of that letter. I would like your
    >opinion. My basic question is - using just one hand as the example; as
    >per existing 2016 NMJL rules for use of the White Dragon: Is the
    >following hand - which I presented as a Mah Jongg - FF 000 111 222 333
    >a valid Mah Jong? Since I presented that hand in early April most
    >players now support the reasoning that it is. The mere fact that the
    >NMJL has never printed hands to demonstrate using the White Dragon as
    >the even number zero or never had a clear and definitive rule that
    >states the White Dragon can only be used in year hands AND they do not
    >like the idea of having players using many Jokers to create a Mah
    >Jongg..... Last week in tournament play I had 7 Jokers in a Mah Jongg
    >hand. Enough said.. What is your opinion based on the long standing
    >NMJL rules that state the White Dragon MUST be used a the even number
    >Zero (0) and MAY (permissive) be use in any of the three suits. Thank
    >You. Have a good day, Bob A.

    >
    >Filename: May 2016 President Letter.docx
    >May 2, 2016
    >President
    >National Mah Jongg League, Inc.
    >450 Seventh Avenue
    >New York City
    >New York
    >Dear President:
    >First I would like to say; I thank the “League” for responding to my letter dated April 2016 regarding the use of the White Dragon as the number zero in any Mah Jongg hand.
    >Secondly, I would like you to know the response from the “League” has been viewed by many as unofficial, and perhaps even drafted by myself, since it was not on official National Mah Jongg League, Inc. stationary. It was on plain paper and not signed by the author. One does think an organization with such a huge membership would have official printed stationary.
    >Regardless, I was happy to realize the League does agree that I have, for many years, read the rules properly with regard to the White Dragon being used as the even number zero, without prejudice.
    >I am less happy to be left confused that the “League” finds it “difficult to sanction hands that require five or more jokers in order for a Mah Jongg to be made.” Having to use five or more jokers is not the issue of concern. I find the greater the challenge the more fun it is to try and complete a hand.
    >Tradition seems to prevent a more definitive response that would assure a completed hand such as FF 000 111 222 333 is in fact a valid Mah Jongg, as per existing rules.
    >The “League” response stated “It might be clearer to state that white dragons may only be used as zeros in those hands involving the current year, and in no other hands.” However, for as long as I can remember the white dragon could have been used in any hand as the even number zero.
    >I had no intention to be critical, I was, and still seek definitive clarification. In the future, it might be easier to leave the rules as is and not discriminate against the number zero. In my opinion it would be easy to educate players by simply printing one hand in each group that would easily demonstrate the use of the white dragon as a zero. This would leave all National Mah Jongg League players to decide on their own if they want to try for a hand that would require any number of jokers, up to all eight (8), in order to complete.
    >Thank You again.
    >
    >Filename: FF 000 111 222 333.docx
    >CHATHAM MAH JONGG – SPECIAL HANDS
    >X 35 NN 00 SS EE 111 222
    >X 35 WW 00 EE SS 111 222
    >C 40 FF 00 11 22 33 44 DD
    >X 45 FF 000 111 222 333
    >X 50 0000 11 11 11 2222
    >X 75 0000 11111 22222
    >C 100 WE WON 10 10 WE WON (can use 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 or 90)
    >C 150 00 DD 000 DDD 0000 (requires use of 5 Jokers)

    Hi, Bob.
    To reply to what you said to me:

    I would like your
    >opinion. My basic question is - using just one hand as the example; as
    >per existing 2016 NMJL rules for use of the White Dragon: Is the
    >following hand - which I presented as a Mah Jongg - FF 000 111 222 333
    >a valid Mah Jong?
    No. As I wrote in FAQ 19-BH, the League clearly intends white dragon to be used as zero ONLY where a 0 is shown on the card.

      The use of white dragons as zeroes is the solution to the League's problem "how do we make a year that has a zero in it?" It's also conceivable that the League might make a hand that uses tens or something, like: FFFF 5555 + 5555 = 10

    Since I presented that hand in early April most
    >players now support the reasoning that it is.
    I don't know where you presented it, or to whom, and I don't know the size of the sample you polled. But I disagree, and I believe the majority of my readers will also disagree with you on this.

    AND they do not
    >like the idea of having players using many Jokers to create a Mah
    >Jongg.....
    Who is "they"? The League?

    Last week in tournament play I had 7 Jokers in a Mah Jongg
    >hand. Enough said..
    What's your point? You may have as many as 8 jokers.

    What is your opinion based on the long standing
    >NMJL rules that state the White Dragon MUST be used a the even number
    >Zero (0) and MAY (permissive) be use in any of the three suits.
    When you see a 0 on the card, the only tile you may use for that is soap. When soap is used as zero, it's suitless.

    CHATHAM MAH JONGG – SPECIAL HANDS
    I don't know why you sent me this. You didn't mention if Chatham is a person, a facility, or a city... Anyway, anyone can make up special table rules, as I wrote in FAQ 14. If you make up your own rules, the League is not in charge of your game's rules any longer. 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
    May 26, 2016


    Donation, part 2

    >From: Elisegk
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 10:43 AM
    >Subject: Re: Notification of donation received
    >You are welcome. I really enjoy your column and am happy to make a donation !


    Can't get the "nav frame" to show up

    >From: "pleusink
    >Sent: Monday, May 23, 2016 8:36 PM
    >Subject: nav frame
    >I assume by nav frame you mean a search box.....? If so, none comes up no matter how many times I click on the line asking me to. ;( Soooo much info on the site, very difficult to find subjects (such as concealed game)!
    >Thanks for possible help.
    >Penny L
    >Wisconsin

    Hi, Penny.
    The nav frame isn't a search box. It's a vertical list of the titles of all the FAQs and bulletin boards, and it's shown on the left side of the screen (to the left of the main content frame where an FAQ or a column is displayed). If you are never shown a vertical list of links at the left side of the screen and you want help making that appear, you'll need to tell me what kind of device you're using (is it a desktop/laptop, or is it a small smartphone, is it a tablet computer, is it an older featurephone) and where you are when trying to access the nav frame (what URL), and a screen shot would also help me help you.
    You mentioned that you were looking for information on "concealed game"? If you tell me what you're looking for, I can either point you to the FAQ or give you an answer.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY, USA

    May 24, 2016


    Donation

    >From: Elise K via PayPal
    >Sent: Monday, May 23, 2016 8:36 PM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    >PayPal
    >You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $10.00 USD from Elise K (elisegk
    >View the details of this transaction online
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Confirmation number:
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Elise K
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal
    >Copyright © 1999-2016 PayPal. All rights reserved.

    Thank you, Elise!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper


    Column 652, part 4

    >From: Elisegk
    >To: tom@sloperama.com
    >Sent: Monday, May 23, 2016 8:30 PM
    >Subject: Re: another suggestion for hand #7 in col 652
    >yes, I would have passed 5d, south, 9 crack, so would have still kept some of the other options alive!!

    Gotcha, Elise. That's a fine option. Some folks are intimidated by concealed hands.
    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.
    Rochester, NY, USA

    May 24, 2016


    Column 652, part 3

    >From: "lindaz...
    >Sent: Monday, May 23, 2016 6:36 AM
    >Subject: column 652
    >Hi Tom,
    >For problem # 6, there are 7 tiles toward CR #6 in bams. They are also useful for CR # 1 (6 tiles) as another option.
    >Thanks, Linda

    Hi Linda,
    Yes, Consec. #6 is a good option. So you'd have to keep a flower, which means you'd have to give up one of the options I mentioned in the column. Not Consec. #1, I gather.
    - Consec. #1: 6 tiles
    - Consec. #2: 5 tiles
    - Consec. #4: 6 tiles
    Since Consec. #2 is outnumbered, I presume that's the one you'd kill. So what 3 tiles would you pass?
    As I alluded in my response to Elise last night (below), when going for a concealed hand, a one-tile advantage is cancelled out by the concealment requirement. A 7-tile concealed hand is about the same as a 6-tile exposed hand. If I had a 2-tile lead for a concealed hand, then that would definitely sway me.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY, USA

    May 23, 2016


    Column 652, part 2

    >From: Elisegk
    >Sent: Sunday, May 22, 2016 6:57 PM
    >Subject: another suggestion for hand #7 in col 652
    >There are 6 tiles toward the closed 2016 hand: FF, two 1 dots, one 6 dot and a white so I would have kept the 6 dot and passed the 5 dot instead!

    Hi, Elise.
    Not sure what three tiles you would pass. It's unclear if you saw Barbara's email about the 369 option. Were you saying you would pass 5D 9C and S (working off my initial pass of 6D 9C S which also kept other options open but ignored the 369 option Elise pointed out)? Or just go for 2016 and ignore all those lesser options? What about the fact that going just for the 2016 hand means never calling someone's discard (Concealed hands being harder, which needs to be taken into consideration when bypassing "lesser" but exposable options)?
    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.
    Rochester, NY, USA

    May 22, 2016


    Column 652

    >From: Barbara B
    >Sent: Friday, May 20, 2016 8:27 AM
    >Subject: Charleston - Column #652
    >Hi Tom,
    >I am puzzled about your analysis of hand #7. I agree on the Odds #5,
    >but don't understand why you would pick Elevens or Like Numbers, with
    >no pairs other than Flowers and no 7s. My thoughts were: Odds #5 and
    >369 #3 (long shot, but let's face it: everything with this hand is a
    >long shot). I usually hang onto Whites, at least through the first
    >round (and a 2016 is also a possible, though another long-shot).
    >Of course, all this analysis leaves me with nothing to throw; I
    >decided to keep the Odds and 369s alive, discarding 2D, 5D and S.
    >What do you think?
    >Barbara

    Hi, Barbara. Let's take your email point by point:

    don't understand why you would pick Elevens or Like Numbers
    With three ones, we have five tiles (as many as we have with Odds #5). With the 9C, we have five tiles towards Elevens #1 (again, five tiles) - but then I recommended discarding the 9C anyway, so moot point.

    369 #3 (long shot
    That's good, actually. 3B 6D 9C - again, five tiles with the flowers.

    Of course, all this analysis leaves me with nothing to throw
    Could pass 5D S and soap.

    discarding 2D, 5D and S.
    What 2D? (^_^) I like 5D S and soap as an alternative pass. But I agree with you that passing soaps goes against the grain on the first right.
    I'm appending this to column 652. 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
    May 20, 2016


    Who gets a discard, part 2

    Odette, my apologies! When I first responded to your email (below,) I totally missed part of your question:

    >Also I think this answer may be in error for Question 1.
    >http://www.sloperama.com/images/letb.gifhttp://www.sloperama.com/images/letl.gifQ: Am I required to put a tile in my rack? Three variations on this question:
    >>(1) We have a player who picks a tile, then discards a tile without ever putting the picked tile on her rack. Is she allowed to do that? Aren't we always required to rack the tile after picking it?
    >>A.1. No. There is no rule that says a player must rack before discarding.
    >I was always taught that you had to have 13 tiles in your rack at all times. If you do not rack your picked tile, when you discard, you only have 12 tiles on your rack with one
    >on the table. I was always told in a Tournament you would be called dead if you did this. Please let me know.

    Sorry I missed that part of your question, Odette. To clarify for other readers, you were asking about FAQ 19-BL, part 1.
    A player does always have 13 tiles in the hand at all times, except when it's her turn and she acquires a 14th tile briefly. Picking a tile from the wall is one way to acquire a 14th tile. As I wrote, there is no rule that says that the player must put that 14th tile into the hand - she is permitted to discard it if she so desires.
    Now I've addressed your question. And now I'm going to say more (which might result in further discussion with a reader of this board, which includes you)...
    Discarding the picked tile without racking doesn't close the window of opportunity on the previous discard, but that only matters to highly aggressive in-your-face players (or fraidy-cat beginner players who overestimate the likelihood of picking a joker from the wall, and have not learned to feel a joker with the fingertips). And it's for this reason that many players assume that it's wrong to discard the picked tile without racking it.
    A player must have 14 tiles in the hand in order to declare mah-jongg (all mah-jongg hands require 14 tiles). A player has 13 tiles in the hand most of the time, bringing the 14th tile into the hand on each turn (without which she would never have the ability to make mah-jongg).
    Scroll down to read my reply to your first question. (These posts are in reverse chronological order.)
    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
    May 19, 2016


    Who gets a discard if two want it for the same thing? (Conflicting claim)

    >From: "obythec
    >Sent: Thursday, May 19, 2016 2:43 PM
    >Subject: Question
    >I have not seen anything on this topic. It came up for the first time in 5 years that I have played. I would love to know your thoughts on this.
    >During a MJ tournament, East threw out a Flower. Before anyone could say anything, West (directly across from her) pushed 3 Flowers to expose them on her rack in one fell swoop with her hand BEFORE
    >calling for it. After they were exposed she then proceeded to call the flower. The next person whose turn it was supposed to be wanted the Flower. The lady who exposed her 3 Flowers said it was hers because she exposed her 3 Flowers.
    >The Tournament director said the person who exposed the 3 Flowers should get it even though it was the other person's turn next.
    >I do not agree with this ruling. It should be the next person's turn to the right of East. Am I wrong?
    >Also I think this answer may be in error for Question 1.
    >http://www.sloperama.com/images/letb.gifhttp://www.sloperama.com/images/letl.gifQ: Am I required to put a tile in my rack? Three variations on this question:
    >(1) We have a player who picks a tile, then discards a tile without ever putting the picked tile on her rack. Is she allowed to do that? Aren't we always required to rack the tile after picking it?
    >A.1. No. There is no rule that says a player must rack before discarding.
    >I was always taught that you had to have 13 tiles in your rack at all times. If you do not rack your picked tile, when you discard, you only have 12 tiles on your rack with one
    >on the table. I was always told in a Tournament you would be called dead if you did this. Please let me know.
    >I appreciate your thoughts as I am always learning.
    >Best regards,
    >Odette L

    Hi, Odette.
    The player, West, who hurriedly exposed her tiles was aggressive and unkind, but I assume she must have read the 2007 and/or 2013 newsletters from the League. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-H. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    The League's rule is probably intended to cover a situation in which the next-in-line was slow to speak, but the way the rule is worded, your tournament organizer was correct. If you want to get confirmation from the League, write them (don't call). 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
    May 19, 2016


    When is a discard "down" (and can't be taken back)?

    >From: Clement M
    >Sent: Thursday, May 19, 2016 3:10 PM
    >Subject: Mahjongg Question
    >If a player takes a tile out of his rack to discard and has it in his hand and calls it (such as 3 Bam) and another player says, ' I want that', can the first player with the tile then say 'I don't want to give that" and change the tile they are going to put down?
    >This happened during our play and the player said since they did not put it on the table they could change it even though another player called for it after the tile had been named, or do they have to continue discarding that particular tile since it had been named and called for by another player already?
    >Thank you.
    >Appreciate your taking the time to answer this.

    Hi, Clement.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-A. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    May 19, 2016


    Putting two and two together

    Sometimes seemingly unrelated bits of information go unrecognized as being related after all. So it is with Ray L's post of May 17 and Marcia W's post of March 12. Marcia described a mysterious new variant form of mah-jongg called "The Complete Year," which included a new fourth dragon tile called "the Golden Dragon." She described it as "a tile with a rhinestone glued to the middle." And Ray provided a link to an image of just such a tile, the infrequently found shiro potchi (白ポッチ) of Japanese mah-jongg.

    A year ago, I'd written an article for Mahjong Collector magazine, mentioning such a tile - but was unable to find a photo at that time. I suppose that a Japanese set with shiro potchi would have included just one (replacing a regular blank tile, which is what the Japanese use for white dragon), but "The Complete Year" would need four of them.
    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
    May 19, 2016


    Explaining one mystery, part 2

    >From: Raymond L
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 2:12 PM
    >Subject: More obscure dora tiles and the Thai set
    >Hi Tom,
    >Here's a followup on the white potchi tile. If you go on google image search and put in 白ポッチ 麻雀 you will find some that look like Adam's and all sorts of rare dora tiles like green and gold 5s. I believe they're parlor house tiles. I found one website that makes custom tiles: http://www.1kawaya.com/mj/custom/bees01.html
    >Moving on to another topic is the rare and mysterious Thai set. I've never found the rules which I believe may have gone extinct. After several years I've only managed to find one small photo of that set at the Japanese mahjong museum's website: http://museum.takeshobo.co.jp/houmotsu/world/asia/index.html
    >I'll do a rough translation:
    >"Plastic Thai mahjong tiles are manufactured in Hong Kong. There are many flower tiles [sic includes jokers], 8 groups of 32 tiles. 「春夏秋冬」 (seasons), 「梅蘭菊竹」 (the four gentlemen flowers), 「漁樵耕読」 (four noble professions), 「琴棋書画」 (four scholarly arts) along with Zhao Gongming and his treasure pot, Jiang Ziya and the fish, rooster and the centipede, and the cat and the rat from the "cornered rat". Furthermore there are the almighty tiles 「花合喜元」「総萬筒索」 [they are identical to the Vietnamese jokers], which are examples of the many flowers."
    >
    >This explains some of the mystery tiles in FAQ 7e like the fisherman and the fish. The rooster and the centipede and the cat and rat are also Chinese folktales that you can online. Turning our attention the the jokers, you will find that they are exactly like the eight in the Vietnamese set. If you remember, these eight are nearly identical to the Changsha wang maque that Michael Stanwick and Hongbing Xu wrote about here: http://www.themahjongtileset.co.uk/tile-set-history/flowers-and-kings-an-hypothesis-of-their-function-in-early-ma-que/
    >
    >The only difference is that instead of a 陞 joker in wang maque, there is a 花 (flower) joker. In wang maque, 陞and 総 can act as any suit or honor tile but not as flower tiles. In Vietnam, the 総 can also act as a flower while the 花 joker behaves just like the animal flowers in Singapore and Malaysia. I do not know the origin of the animal tiles in SE Asia, it's best to consult with Thierry Depaulis or Stanwick on this issue. The strange thing about the Thai set is that it seems to be a combination of the 164 tile Malaysian set with the Vietnamese set. As the Thai set already has eight animals, the flower joker would just be the ninth animal but as we don't know the rules we can't be sure. As I can't make a table on email, I'm sending an excel sheet comparing the various sets of SE Asia.
    >
    >I've also included the northern Chinese game of hua maque into the spreadsheet. Stanwick reports that there is a "no honors no flowers" hand just like in Vietnamese game but is played with 16 tiles at hand like in Taiwan and the Philippines. Best regards,
    >Ray L.


    Hi, Ray.
    You wrote:

    If you go on google image search and put in 白ポッチ 麻雀 you will find some[.]
    Cool! Until you told me the name of the haku dora tile yesterday, I wouldn't have known to do that.

    another topic is the rare and mysterious Thai set. I've never found the rules which I believe may have gone extinct. After several years I've only managed to find one small photo of that set at the Japanese mahjong museum's website:
    That photo is indeed small! The full-size image is in the Mahjong Museum's beautiful MAJAN HAKUBUTSUKAN DAI ZUROKU ("Illustrated Book of the Mah-Jongg Museum," or "Mah-Jongg Museum Big Encyclopedia"), which I list in FAQ 3. I have a copy of the book, which is extremely rare. I didn't want to break the book's spine and scan the image, so I took a photo of the image with my iPhone. I don't like the images on this board to be larger than 400 pixels in either direction, so my apologies that this is shrunk:

    All the other tiles in the image are ordinary mah-jongg tiles, so I just zoomed in on the meaty portion (flowers and jokers).

    I'll do a rough translation:
    >"Plastic Thai mahjong tiles are manufactured in Hong Kong...
    My book is in both Japanese and English, but the English is always less detailed than the Japanese. But thank you for the translation. Essentially, the set has 16 flowers plus the Singapore-style flowers plus the 8 basic Vietnamese jokers.

    This explains some of the mystery tiles in FAQ 7e like the fisherman and the fish. The rooster and the centipede and the cat and rat are also Chinese folktales that you can online.
    That's nice to know! I've always just referred to them as "Singapore style" because in Singapore they have a documented use for those tiles.

    I'm sending an excel sheet comparing the various sets of SE Asia.
    >I've also included the northern Chinese game of hua maque
    Thanks. It never occurred to me to make such a grid for comparison.

    By the way, perhaps it's helpful to explain why I call FAQ 7E "the mystery tiles FAQ." I often get people writing me and saying, "I have a mah-jongg set and I've figured out what most of the tiles are, but some of the tiles are a mystery!" Those tiles aren't so much a mystery to me - I explain what they are in the FAQ. And now I'll add this email to 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 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
    May 18, 2016


    Explaining one mystery

    >From: Raymond L
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 17, 2016 2:24 PM
    >Subject: Explanation of Adam's special unknown tiles
    >Hi Tom,
    >I've been going through your FAQ's and noticed an old mystery from 2005. Allow me to shed some light on the rhinestone star tile first. The set was made by Nintendo so logically it might have been a Japanese mahjong set. Remember Nicholas Cheung's 2012 alert that there are lesser known variants that contained red 3s and 7s? There's also red white dragons! They are called 白ポッチ (shiro potchi) in Japanese. These two websites will provide more information:
    >The first is the Japanese wiki for dora.
    >https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%89%E3%83%A9_%28%E9%BA%BB%E9%9B%80%29
    >The second shows a tile that's almost like Adam's.
    >http://arcturus.su/wiki/Dora
    >The second tile is a bit more puzzling. 皇 means emperor which is also found in Vietnamese flower tiles. You suggested that it could mean white king (白王) but I consider it unlikely. If it were two words, they would be colored differently to avoid confusion. Searching 皇麻雀牌 after confining it to Japanese led me nowhere (my Japanese is horrendous).
    >I've also noticed some errors in the FAQ's which I will help you correct but that's for another day.
    >Best regards,
    >Ray L.

    Hi, Ray.
    Great information! Thanks. You're referring to this image:

    At the sites you cited, I see these images:

    Those sites do confirm that these are "red whites" (white dragons acting as score doublers). As for the 皇 emperor tile, I guess the mystery continues.
    I look forward to getting further info that I can use to improve the accuracy of my site. Thanks again, Ray!
    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
    May 17, 2016


    Tile sorting

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Monday, May 16, 2016 3:21 PM
    >Subject: organizing your hand
    >Hi Tom,
    >Your columns have been very helpful to me so I'm hoping you can give me some advice. I looked in FAQ but did not find an answer--what is the best way to organize your dealt hand on your rack before the first Charleston begins? By suits, odds, or evens? Some possibilities are obvious, some not.
    >Thanks, Linda

    Hi, Linda.
    You wouldn't find this in FAQ 19, because FAQ 19 is about rules, not strategy. You didn't look in FAQ 8, the Strategy FAQ!
    Anyway, I would think the answer to this question could be inferred by simply looking at the images in my columns. I always start every Charleston column by organizing my tiles the same way:

    I teach my beginning students to put flowers at the left, then organize numerically by suit, then dragons and winds and jokers. I teach my students not to put bams next to flowers because 1B is too easy to confuse for a flower. (I did put 1B next to flowers in the #7 example in the image above, but only because those are easily-distinguished colored graphics and not actual tiles.)
    I teach all my students (even in advanced/intermediate class) not to pre-assign jokers but put them as dividers between keepers and tossers, once keepers have been identified.
    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
    May 16, 2016


    Set valuation, part 5

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Monday, May 16, 2016 11:21 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: Esther's flowers
    >Hi Tom,
    >I looked in my copy of Eberhard too, and you are right, he uses 張國老 for Zhang Guolao. This seems to be a rather less commonly used way to write Zhang Guolao's name (and has a slightly different pronunciation, the central character, 國, is Guo with a rising tone, whereas the more common 果, also Guo, has a tone that falls and then rises).
    >Regards
    >Ray

    Interesting! I detect a chink in the armor of the Chinese tonality system. Not as though English armor, I mean armour(!), doesn't have chinks too (you say tomato, I say you're wrong).
    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
    May 16, 2016


    New column posted

    New column is up! Check it out, and let me know if I screwed something up! (^_^)


    Settle these arguments

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Saturday, May 14, 2016 6:25 PM
    >Subject: MY PREVIOUS EMAILS from 5/12 & 5/13
    >Hi Tom, Hope this question didn’t go into your spam like my last one. Noticed some questions dated 5/13 were answered today so I am just checking. It seems that when playing Mah Jongg there is always a question or two. Today our friendly game players decided that it would be OK to touch and even move the tile from the wall and put it back to take the discard instead as long as it wasn’t looked at. I agreed but ... I am a “play by the riles gal!” Enjoy your weekend. Lynn P.

    >From: Lynn Peters
    >Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2016 10:10 PM
    >To: webmaster@sloperama.com
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Playing American Mah Jongg today with 2 new subs (A & B) and 2 seasoned players (C & D), A called a discard and placed it on the sloping side of her rack with her other tiles. She didn’t expose the called discard nor other tiles that went with it. D said she must place the called discard on her top rack with the other tiles but C said she didn’t have to. B questioned why A couldn’t place the called discard on the sloping rack and then put up all the necessary tiles at once and both A & B said they had not learned that. I explained that was the “rule” while the C continued to argue with me. C said she has played a long time and never placed her called tile on the top rack and that she doesn’t play by some made-up rules because she plays friendly games. I finally told the 2 subs that it is not a made-up rule but is the rule of NMJL. C is also the one who refuses to put any of her tiles on the slanted rack if she is called dead. I know you have discussed both of these rules but I can’t seem to find the discussions so I can email them both to C who plays “friendly games”. She made the snide remark that I think I am a MJ expert because I quote Tom!! Again thanks for your help and answers that make me an “expert” in playing Mah Jongg!! Lynn P

    Hi, Lynn.
    Yep, I found both emails in my spam folder. I earmarked them as Not Spam, so I hope your future emails won't go there again.
    So, you have 2 questions:

    Where's the rule about not putting a called discard within the concealed tiles on the sloping front of the rack?
    See the 2013 newsletter from the League. It's permitted to put the taken discard into the hand just prior to exposing the hand for a win. (FAQ 19-K)

    But are you saying your seasoned player C calls a discard, then just puts it into the hand and discards without exposing? Seriously? Show her the rulebook, page 14. "The claimant must then expose on the rack the Pung, Kong or Quint which has been completed by the discarded tile." Mah-jongg isn't Rummy! A discarded mah-jongg tile may be claimed for two things only: for "exposure" (of a pung, kong, or quint) or for mah-jongg (which also has to be exposed immediately). The newsletters contain multitudinous mentions of claiming a discard "for exposure" and none whatsoever of claiming a discard to put it within the concealed hand.


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

    Where's the rule about putting erroneous mahj tiles back on the sloping front of the rack?
    Again, it's in the rulebook.
    Page 16 of the rulebook says that a "hand that has been incorrectly exposed for a declaration of Mah Jongg must be returned to the rack". FAQ 19-P.
    And see the 2007 newsletter, too: "Once a hand is declared "dead," any Jokers that were exposed with that declaration cannot be redeemed." (This rule was stated not only in 2007 but also other newsletters.)

    I don't know why you want to refer your players to discussions on this board rather than the FAQs (which always come with citations as to the source), or better yet, the rulebook and the newsletters. But to find other places on this board where I've discussed the "return to the rack" rule on page 16 with readers, just search this page for "page 16". The rule has been discussed several times.

    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
    May 14, 2016


    She had a change of heart, part 2

    >From: "bcl...
    >Sent: Saturday, May 14, 2016 6:52 AM
    >Subject: Re: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >I apologize for this automatic reply to your email.
    >To control spam, I now allow incoming messages only from senders I have approved beforehand.
    >If you would like to be added to my list of approved senders, please fill out the short request form (see link below). Once I approve you, I will receive your original message in my inbox. You do not need to resend your message. I apologize for this one-time inconvenience.
    >Click the link below to fill out the request:
    >https://webmail.pas.blah blah blah

    I was just trying to tell you that I'd answered your question and let you know how to return to the board and read your answer, Bonnie. I'm not clicking that link; too much bother. Hope you come back and get 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 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
    May 14, 2016


    She had a change of heart

    >From: Bonnie C
    >Sent: Saturday, May 14, 2016 6:06 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player pick up a tile from the currently presented wall. She is holding it face down therefore does not know what it is, nor has she racked it. Can she put it back into the exposed wall and instead claim the last discarded tile?
    >Thank you,
    >Bonnie C

    Hi, Bonnie.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    The "Change of Heart" Frequently Asked Question is FAQ 19-AM. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    May 14, 2016


    There's a 5th player who's not betting, and...

    >From: DONNA
    >Sent: Friday, May 13, 2016 5:49 PM
    >Subject: question
    >When playing with 5 players and 1 sits out and does not bet is there a rule regarding the 5th player sitting out giving one of the players advice on which hand to target? We had this happen and the player taking the advice MahJongged.

    Hi, DONNA.
    You're asking if there's a rule. So let's consult the official rulebook (which I did not write and I do not get any money from):


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

    The rulebook describes the 5-player game, starting on page 23. The rulebook assumes that the 5th player is acting as "bettor." But in your game, your 5th player does NOT act as bettor, you say. So, is that player no longer subject to what the rulebook says, since your group has agreed to deviate from the rulebook at this point? You described this 5th person as "the 5th player." If she is a "player," then she IS subject to what the rulebook says, even if she is not betting. In fact, the last paragraph (on page 24) states that she is subject to the rules. The rulebook itself does not go into enough detail. So now we need to consult my comprehensive collection of yearly newsletters, going back to 1997.


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

    From the January, 2014 newsletter:

      Q: Is the bettor allowed to say anything during the game?
      A: No...if the bettor in any way interferes with the play of the game, their bet is cancelled.

    As I said above, the League assumes that the 5th player is betting. And the League says that if the 5th player is not betting, the rules still apply. So, although your non-bettor doesn't have a bet that can be cancelled, she did interfere with the play of the game, and that is definitely not allowed. The League has not stated what penalty should apply in a case such as you describe. I can suggest what I think the League would say the penalty should be, but that would be my guess.
    My guess is that your 5th player who interfered should compensate every player who paid the winner the exact amount that player paid the winner. (She should pay the winner for everyone.) But that's just my guess.
    To find out definitively what penalty the League would apply, you would need to write to the League and get the response in writing. Their current address is on the 2016 card (don't use the address on the 2015 card). Read FAQ 19-BN for more about why you should write and not call the League with questions, and read FAQ 19-W for the rules applying to bettors (thus, any 5th person involved in the game). You can link to FAQ 19 above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    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
    Friday the 13th, May, 2016


    Clockwise? Counterclockwise? It's so confusing!

    >From: Arleen
    >Sent: Friday, May 13, 2016 3:46 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:after first wall is used up does right or left go next?

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


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

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    Friday the 13th, May, 2016


    Mystery object, 2" x 1.5" x .5"

    >From: Morton
    >Sent: Friday, May 13, 2016 8:11 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I found this in a Hong Kong set. It measures 2 in. by 1½ in. It is about ½ in. thick. I believe it is not a Wind indicator since a Wind Indicator came with the set. What is it?
    >Morton W.

    Hi, Morton.
    Without more of an idea what it might look like, I can't tell you what it is. Have you looked at the images in the Bits & Pieces FAQ (Frequently Asked Question 7-D)? You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Friday the Thirteenth, May, 2016

    P.S. If it looks like this (below), then your mystery object's use is described in FAQ 7-D. - Tom


    Chengdu mah-jongg, part 2

    >From: Joseph S
    >Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2016 10:36 PM
    >Subject: Chengdu
    >I'm interested!
    >Forgot to add that chows cannot be melded, only made in hand.

    Joe,
    My correspondent is currently in the US, graduating from university. And after returning to Chengdu she will have a lot on her plate. But after she's played a few times she says she'll get back to me with scoring information. She confirms that this variant is called "blood battle" since after the first two players have won, it's a battle for survival between the last two players. She says this variant is the "most commonly played type in Western China."
    Let's give her time to start her life; she'll send information when she can catch her breath.
    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
    Friday the 13th, May, 2016


    Chengdu mah-jongg

    >From: Joseph S
    >Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2016 2:18 PM
    >Subject: Chengdu mahjong
    >Hi Mr. Sloper,
    >Some info on 'Chengdu Mahjong.'
    >I got an app that uses these rules. It's in broken English, so I still don't know what the scoring is. The rules are these
    >-108 tiles, no honors
    >-13 tiles in hand
    >-to win, you must be lacking at least one suit in your hand
    >-when someone wins, the other players continue until the wall runs out, or three people win.
    >-again, scoring is beyond me. I've been trying to figure it out for some years.
    >If one googles 'chengdu mahjong', there are some other websites with rules, which seem to be a little different with the scoring than this one from what I can tell, but the same gameplay. Numerous websites say that the game is nicknamed 'bloody battle' or 'blood game' or something like that due to everyone getting a chance to win.
    >If anyone else has info on this variant, please tell the bulletin board!
    >Joe

    That's interesting stuff, Joe! I might possibly have a new Chengdu connection, and I'll see if I can find out anything.
    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
    May 12, 2016


    Set valuation, part 4

    >From: Esther L
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 10:19 PM
    >Subject: Re: Set Valuation
    >Hi Tom,
    >Sorry for using the wrong word. I'd also like to thank Ray for clarifying the flower. But would these pictures depict Haversin system lines? I'm not familiar with the term so I think that's what I'm seeing.
    >Thank you so much for all your help!
    >Sincerely,
    >Esther Leung

    Hi, Esther.
    Yes, that does look like Haversian system, but oddly white and shiny. It looks as though the sticks are coated with shiny white paint or lacquer. It's unusual. Not being able to touch them or examine them in person, I can't be certain what's going on with these. They do appear to be bone, but they are definitely not typical of the 1920s, so I'm sticking with my assessment of 1930s or later.

    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
    May 12, 2016


    Set valuation, part 3

    >From: Ray H
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 1:03 PM
    >Subject: Esther's flowers
    >Hi Tom,
    >In your answer to Esther's question on her flower tiles, you referred her to FAQ 7-e, but there's at least one tile that I don't think is included in 7-e; the figure riding a donkey.
    >It's not too easy to see the images, but the figure looks to be riding the donkey while facing backwards - if so, the figure represents Zhang Guolao, 張果老, the oldest of the eight immortals (at three thousand years old). His emblem is a fish drum, a tube-shaped bamboo drum with two iron rods or mallets that he carries with him. He often, too, carries a phoenix feather or a peach, representing a desire for a long life. Zhang could shrink his donkey to a tiny size, keeping it under his cap between rides.
    >Best wishes,
    >Ray

    Hi, Ray.
    As always, your encyclopedic knowledge of Chinese personages is amazing. I should probably actually read my Eberhard book sometime! I looked under Z and there he is indeed. Eberhard shows a different middle character in the immortal's name. Maybe I need a better book (not that I use the one I have). Heck, I wouldn't have known to look under Z (it would have taken me a long time to get that far, and I would have long since given up).

    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
    May 11, 2016


    Set valuation, part 2

    >From: Esther L
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 11:37 AM
    >Subject: Re: Set Valuation
    >Hi tom,
    >Just to clarify, the sticks have obvious Bavarian markings and are not plastic, would that potentially place my set in the 1920s?

    Hi, Esther.
    I saw your email a couple of hours ago but haven't been able to respond until now, and I have to say, I was completely mystified by these 'Bavarian markings' you mentioned. But when I reopened your email just now, it occurred to me you might have been referring to Haversian system lines? I'm proceeding on that assumption. See this photo you sent me (I zoomed in on some of the sticks)...

    There is no Haversian system present on those sticks, and they are glossy like plastic. Bone doesn't gleam like that. Also, the sticks all have well-formed ends - very different from the way bone sticks look. It's possible that your sticks are bone but are simply made with better craftsmanship than what we usually see, but in my opinion these are made of plastic.

    would that [Haversian system markings on the sticks] potentially place my set in the 1920s?
    As I said before, this sort of slide-top box is more common to the thirties and later. If the sticks are indeed bone and not plastic, then that would only mean that plastic sticks were not added later or that the set was not made much later than the thirties.

    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
    May 11, 2016


    Who pays double? (Which domino rang the bell?)

    >From: Brenda H
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 9:12 AM
    >Subject: Question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Firstly, I love your site and really find it a wonderful resource. Thank you. I play with a group of relatively new players and occasionally procedural questions come up and we often refer to your site as a way of resolving disagreements. We had an issue recently and I was hoping to get some clarification as I could not find anything specific about it on your site already.
    >My question relates to a particular scenario and whether it should be double pay for everyone…..…..?
    >Player A has one exposure.
    >Player B discards a tile which player A calls and player A uses the tile to make a correct second exposure (Player A now has 2 exposures and has not discarded a tile).
    >Then player A exchanges a tile for an exposed joker and declares Mah Jongg using the joker to complete her hand for Mah Jongg.
    >Is this considered a self pick for player A and payable as double for all other players or is just a double pay for player B as she discarded the tile player A needed before she exchanging the joker?
    >Also does it matter that the joker she exchanged was from her own rack (from the first exposure she had).
    >Thanking you in advance for your time.
    >Brenda

    Hi, Brenda. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Questions 19-AN & 19-BO. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    May 11, 2016


    Four jokers complicate the Goulash wall

    >From: Elaine K
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 7:13 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Q&A
    >Hi,
    >When inserting four blank tiles into the walls for Goulash, which walls will contain the extra blank tiles?
    >E & W will contain 38 tiles
    >or
    >N & S will contain 38 tiles
    >Thanks so much.

    Hi, Elaine.
    The use of four jokers in Western mah-jongg variants (other than American-style mah-jongg) is unofficial, so therefore how one builds walls of unequal length is also unofficial. It's likely that some tables do what you suggest (adding one stack each to two opposite walls) and some tables just add two stacks to the first or last wall. In American mah-jongg, some players who are bothered by the fact that the walls are one stack longer than the racks make a "tail" of four stacks, and where that's placed is a matter of agreement between the players.
    In terms of probabilities and statistics, it doesn't matter. If you want something that pleases your sense of symmetry, do it however you like.
    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
    May 11, 2016


    Set valuation

    >From: Esther L
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 2:59 AM
    >Subject: Set Valuation
    >Hi Tom,
    >I recently acquired a mah jong set that is very interesting and wanted to know if you might be able to provide me with a set valuation. I have a number of questions about this set. I purchased it after I saw an advertisement on kijiji from a lady that explained that she was helping to sell some of the belongings of her friend that just recently moved into a care home. Her friend had this set handed down to her from her mother who was married to a doctor and they did some travelling. They are unsure when this set was purchased or any other information about it. I purchased two sets from her, one which is newer and not shown in any of these pictures as I'm sure that one will not be worth as much though in what I would define as mint condition.
    >
    >The following is the information based on your set valuation checklist.
    >
    >Contents
    >Sticks: bone sticks in very good condition except for minor bleeding of some paint on 2 sticks. One of the color 3 stick has some of the ink smudged and one of the color 4 stick has some bleeding of the green ink. Otherwise there has been no yellowing at all, all sticks are of consistent coloring except for some very minor fading of ink on some sticks.
    >Color 1 (12 dots) = 6
    >Color 2 (2 dots) = 32
    >Color 3 (8 dots) = 41
    >Color 4 (4 dots) = 46
    >Dice: tiny bone dice “1” has no paint with indentation only and “4” is with red paint in very good condition, one of the dice has some discoloring more yellowish than others.
    >Racks: 4 burgandy colored wooden racks. Two of the racks are perfectly intact and two racks have identically cracked off corners as shown in the photo.
    >
    >Mahjong Tiles: I believe the tiles are bone and they are dovetailed into bamboo. They are carved along with arabic numerals and alphabets. The tiles include the older-style “crak”character. Only a few tiles show some signs of separation between the bone and the bamboo noticeable only on inspection and only in the areas of where the dovetailing occurs. There is noticeable smudging of the ink or fading on some of the tiles. There are a number of tiles that are also discolored turning more yellowish-brown. The bamboo side of the tiles are in fine or excellent condition, no noticeable wear or tear at all.
    >Dimensions: 2.5cm height, 1.7cm width, 1.2cm depth, 0.4cm thickness of bone. It's a bit difficult as the bamboo is thicker in the middle as it is rounded slightly but at most a .1cm difference in the depth depending if you are measuring from the middle or from the side.
    >Suites: The 152-tile set is complete and includes dots, bams, craks (old-style), winds, dragons, flowers, joker and blanks. It is noted that the white dragon is identical to the 4 blanks and there are 4 jokers with the image of a rabbit.
    >
    >Container: the tiles came in a wooden flat box with a sliding lid and there is a chinese verse from the moon goddess carved onto the lid. There is a piece of wood missing from the middle of the lid which causes the middle part of the lid to sink into the box making it difficult to open at times and requires some maneuvering to make sure it does not catch. The box is painted a dark brown and the paint is noticeably smudged on the inside of the box as well. The container side of the box is in good condition with very minor scratches on the edge where you can see a little bit of the original color wood but barely.
    >
    >Paper Material: Because I bought two sets of mah jong, The paperwork for the two sets are all together and I am unsure which material came with this particular set. I’ve included all the material in this description and have found them particularly interesting.
    >
    >Count Table and Counting the Points. (n.d.). Is a leaflet with title page, two tables on the inside pages indicating count tables and the back outlining counting the points. There is no information on publication or author.
    >Directions of Playing Mah-Jong “Chinese Game of Four Winds”. (n.d.). Is a 22 paged booklet. Noticed that there are chinese typed words in this booklet and illustrations show the “chak” with the newer-style.
    >Standard Rules for the Chinese Domino Game of Mah Jong. (n.d.). Is a 25 paged booklet. No printed chinese words, but drawn illustrations of counting sticks and noted newer-style “chak” are seen in the illustrations.
    >Leekun, Y. G. (n.d.). How to Play Mah Jong Standard Rules (1st ed.). Victoria, B.C.: Diggon’s Printing. This booklet is in mint condition, it indicate son its cover that it is the first edition “All Rights Reserved” and “Prince One Dollar”. On further research I discovered that Y.G. Leekun also known as Y. George Leekun was party of the Hobbyist club and was also found to have been involved involved in smuggling arms to China after being offered money by the Gongzhou government for this purpose (found in the book Arming the Chinese: The Western Armaments Trade in Warlord China, 1920-1928 Second Ed. by Anthony B. Chan) From what I can gather this book is circa 192-.
    >3 obviously computer printed pages with “Seating Arrangement”, “Bones”, “Scoring Table”, “Limit Hands”, “Payment”, and “Lucky Tiles” information
    >6 typed pages with title Mah Jong in black ink, with red ink for numbered section titles. There are a number of mis-typed letters and on the last page at the very end it states:
    > “The Game of Mah Jong”, by Max Robertson.
    > Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd., LONDON.
    >I’m unsure if someone just typed out Max Robertson’s book, unsure which edition this is, or whether this is a manuscript, galley, or proof of one of the editions or even the first edition of his book. My research indicates that Max Robertson’s first book “The Game of Mah Jong” was published in 1938 and I wonder if this was typed prior to this publishing but I was unable to find any information about one that was published in London as his books are all published in Auckland or Christchurch, NewZealand. Attached to the 6 typewritten pages are two photocopies of the same 6 pages on obviously different, thicker quality paper and they are all stapled together. On the last page of there is an obvious rusted on imprint of a paperclip. There is no writing on any of the pages.
    >
    >Questions:
    >1. Am I correct in that my set is bone and bamboo? (I wasn't sure if it was bakelite or bone)
    >2. What year is my set from?
    >3. What value do you think my set is worth?
    >4. Where do you think my set originated from?
    >5. Is this a common set or is it a rare set?
    >6. Do you know the authors and years for the documents?
    >7. Is there any way to find out if the typewritten document in #6 is a manuscript, galley or proof? Who should I ask, how do I find out? I have not been able to find the first edition of Max Robertson's first book in 1938 to compare.
    >8. What is the value for these documents?
    >9. Why are some of the tiles more yellow/brown than others?
    >10. Why are the bones in the sticks not yellow/brown and in fact are much whiter than the bone in the tiles.
    >11. What do the flowers mean or represent?
    >
    >Any information or comments would be greatly appreciated. I can be contacted at this email or if you need you can also call me at ##########. Thank you so much for your time and expertise.
    >Sincerely,
    >Esther L

    Hi, Esther. Your questions:

    Am I correct in that my set is bone and bamboo?
    Of course.

    (I wasn't sure if it was bakelite or bone)
    Bakelite is never that white, and I've never seen Bakelite backed with bamboo.

    What year is my set from?
    This type of sliding-top boxed set with small tiles (and rabbit jokers) is probably from the 1930s, or possibly the 40s or 50s.

    What value do you think my set is worth?
    If it was in better condition, it could be worth $60-80. In its present condition, I'm guessing $40. The flowers in particular are badly smudged. The racks were sold separately, and are worth maybe $10.

    Where do you think my set originated from?
    China.

    Is this a common set or is it a rare set?
    It's not rare.

    Do you know the authors and years for the documents?
    The authors are unknown. "Directions of Playing Mah-Jongg" is of recent origin. I'm not sure but "Standard Rules" might also be of recent origin (see comment below). You told me more about the Y. G. Leekun Blue Book than I ever knew!

    Is there any way to find out if the typewritten document in #6 is a manuscript, galley or proof?
    Perhaps.

    Who should I ask, how do I find out?
    I doubt that the trouble you would go through to definitively determine this would be worth it in the end. I think it's likely that someone typed the document so that the rules could be shared with other players, or with students. The fact that you have photocopies bears this out. I compared the Ordinary Suit Hands section with Robertson's description (I don't have his First Edition, but I doubt the wording is any different), and your typist used different words, fewer words, substituting "one" for "1," etc. Conclusion: teaching aid or playing aid, not manuscript.

    What is the value for these documents?
    Your booklet "Directions of Playing Mah-Jong" is worthless. Your booklet "Standard Rules" might or might not have value; I would need to see it with the cover opened to the first page. I believe I have one of those in my collection, but it's a lot of work to go looking for it. Your Y. G. Leekun Blue Book has value, maybe around $15. Your "Count Table" might have value, but not a lot.

    Why are some of the tiles more yellow/brown than others?
    Because they are not new.

    Why are the bones in the sticks not yellow/brown and in fact are much whiter than the bone in the tiles.
    Those are plastic, which suggests that the set is probably newer than the 1930s, or that the sticks have been added to the set.

    What do the flowers mean or represent?
    Read Frequently Asked Question 7-E. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 11, 2016


    Player C made the first discard, part 6

    >From: "judi@mahjonggfunla dot com
    >Sent: Monday, May 9, 2016 10:41 PM
    >Subject: mah jongg question
    >Hi Tom,
    >I got an answer from the National Mah Jongg League in writing regarding my question.
    >Q. Player A was East, but player C made the first discard. Was player C dead?
    >A. If a player, other than East, makes the first discard of the game, she is "dead". Technically, this player has too few tiles in her hand and, thus she discontinues play for that hand.
    >Bill and I had always thought that this was correct, but when Gladys starting saying that the game does not begin until East makes the first discard, we changed our ruling to follow Gladys's rule. We are now going back to our original ruling.
    >Thanks again for your help. Hope to see you soon.
    >Bill & Judi Nachenberg
    >Mah Jongg Fun L.A.

    I love getting things confirmed in writing, Judi! Way to go!
    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
    May 10, 2016


    How does doubling work?

    >From: "Joank...
    >Sent: Monday, May 9, 2016 3:57 PM
    >Subject: Maj Question
    >If a person makes Maj Jongg on her own and it's a jokerless hand, is she paid double?
    >That is, if it's a $.25 game is she paid $1.00? Thanks in advance for your help. Joan K

    Hi, Joan. You wrote:

    If a person makes Maj Jongg on her own and it's a jokerless hand, is she paid double?
    No...* Let's break down your question into two parts:

    If a person makes Maj Jongg on her own
    Read the back of the card, 2nd line from the top. "When a player picks OWN Mah Jongg tile, all players pay double value." Got it? It's double for self-pick. No exceptions - self-pick doubles the amount others must pay. It says so on the card.

    and it's a jokerless hand, is she paid double?
    Read the back of the card, the next sentence in red: "WHEN ... NO JOKERS ARE PART OF THE HAND... DOUBLE VALUE." So, it's double for jokerless, too. Your answer is right there on the card!

    If the hand has no jokers (and isn't a Singles & Pairs hand), the amount others must pay is doubled, regardless of any other scoring circumstances. No score doubler is ever invalidated or trumped by another score doubler. It's not double for jokerless OR double for self-pick... It's double for jokerless, AND it's double for self-pick!

    if it's a $.25 game is she paid $1.00?
    Hard to believe, isn't it? Read Frequently Asked Question 19-W. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 9, 2016

    * No. Self-pick and jokerless is not just double. It's double double!


    Etiquette with a slow player (how do we handle a slow player, part 4)

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Sunday, May 8, 2016 9:25 PM
    >Subject: Fw: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Sunday, May 08, 2016 2:48 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: When playing American Mah Jongg with 4 players, when player A, whose turn it is, takes several minutes to make up her mind as to which tile to discard or in the Charleston which 3 tiles to pass, sometimes the other players forget whose turn it is. Is it rude for another player to ask whose turn it is or is it my turn? Sometimes this happens and one player said the player who asked is rude and is calling attention to the fact that the slow person is taking too much time. Can a player ask these questions of the group or is not correct Mah Jongg etiquette? We are all over age 65, some over 70, so sometimes our minds wander while we are waiting. I know it would not be polite to talk while a player is thinking or rearranging her tiles different ways. So far we are enjoying playing with the 2016 card but we miss some of the old hands. Thanks again for all your answers to my questions. Haven’t had time to check out your Sunday strategies but plan to do so in the next few weeks when I will have more time. Lynn P.

    Hi Lynn,
    Etiquette can be so tricky sometimes, can't it? Let's see your questions:

    Is it rude for another player to ask "whose turn it is or is it my turn?"
    No. It isn't. She is expressing an honest question.

    one player said the player who asked is rude and is calling attention to the fact that the slow person is taking too much time.
    That assumes that the person who asks "whose turn is it" is aware that it isn't her turn, and is intentionally rubbing the slow player's nose in it. Where does she get that assumption from? In my opinion, it's normal and expected that one or more players will forget whose turn it is when a slow player is being slow. Oops, is it rude of me to categorize the slow person as "slow"? Oh, no! What euphemism can I use instead? She's not a "slow player" - she's a "player who's necessarily taking lengthy temporal interludes." Sorry about being politically incorrect before! </sarcasm>

    I know it would not be polite to talk while a player is thinking or rearranging her tiles different ways.
    Really? That differs from what Linda Z said on April 26, below ("How do we handle a slow player, part 3").

    Here's what I think. I think the slow player is being rude and inconsiderate of everyone else by selfishly taking so much time at making a decision, rather than letting go in favor of a smooth flowing harmonious game. BUT is it impolite to tell a slow player she's selfish, rude, and inconsiderate? Unfortunately, yes. It's much less impolite to point out to her that she's taking an inordinately long time, and that by so doing, she's making the game unenjoyable for everyone else.

    If you haven't read columns 375 and 621, and FAQ 19-BA yet, I recommend you do.

    Haven’t had time to check out your Sunday strategies but plan to do so in the next few weeks when I will have more time.
    I've been rather tight on time myself, but the semester is ending this week, so I expect I'll be able to catch up and write some columns.

    P.S. I was wondering why your email was a forward of an earlier email that I never saw, so I decided I should have a look in my spam folder, and there it was! Don't know why. Sorry about that!
    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
    Mother's Day, 2016


    Donation, part 2

    >From: Beth B
    >Sent: Sunday, May 8, 2016 9:51 AM
    >Subject: Re: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Equipro (bethb
    >Thank you Tom...I live for your columns! I'm visiting PA the month of May and will be attending a tournament in Long Branch NJ on the 13th. I'm cutting myself a lot of slack for this first year...don't get me wrong I'm trying my best but not being hard on myself.
    >To be honest...I wish there were more men playing...(not that I'm looking for a man but I do appreciate a more yin yang environment) I figure after a year I may go back to scrabble and then when I'm in my seventies (## this month) I'll come back to Mahjong....we'll see.
    >In the meantime...get to work on those papers!
    >Happy Mother's Day
    >Beth

    Funny you should mention Scrabble, Beth. When I talked to my mom, she told me there was supposed to be a Scrabble game event in her rec room but when she got there, there were just two ladies playing Rummikub. So she played that with them instead of Scrabble.
    P.S. I wasn't confident that you wanted your age to be public, so I edited it out. (^_~)
    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
    Mother's Day, 2016


    Who gets a discard if two want it for the same thing? (FAQ 19-H)

    >From: Sandra H
    >Sent: Saturday, May 7, 2016 7:49 PM
    >Subject: Question from your former classmates
    >Hello Mr. Sloper:
    >Hope you are well. You will smile if you knew how much we "quote" you from our mah jong dates...after a year and a half, we have become lovely friends and enjoy the game tremendously!!
    >So, we came across a situation and here is what happened: (please excuse if I don't use the right lingo or words)
    >When Lisa discarded the 5 dot, Susan was behind her and announced "Mah Jong".....I was the next player and, after she said it quickly, I said Mah Jong as well...turns out we both had mah jong with the 5 dot...
    >We just assumed that Susan said it first and she won the game. However, we were speaking to a friend of mine who plays "by the book" and she said that I should have been the winner because I was the next one to pick a tile....
    >I hope I explained it correctly...can you clarify this situation? We are all interested in knowing the correct rules...
    >Either way, we love the game and give you lots of credit for it!!
    >Best regards,
    >Sandra H

    Hi, Sandra! Always good to hear from a former student.
    Since you were a student, you ought to have my book, and you can find the answer to this question in rule 63 (page 53), and also on the bottom of page 96. And anytime you don't have my book handy, you can read the answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions about American mah-jongg in FAQ 19. You can link to the FAQs above left; you've asked FAQ 19-H. By the way, I started a new session of classes just 2 days ago, and I started off the Intermediate class with a quiz, and FAQ 19-H generated some classroom discussion.
    Anyway, after you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Once you're in the FAQ, you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer.
    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
    Mother's Day, 2016


    Donation

    >From: Equipro via PayPal
    >Sent: Saturday, May 7, 2016 3:22 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Equipro (bethb
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Equipro (bethb. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Equipro
    >Message: Tom, Thank you so much for your awesome website! Because of you I have become a tournament player in less than two months from learning to play....still have a long, long way to go. I live in Long Beach CA and I am looking forward to playing Asian mahjong.
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Beth! I'm so glad my website has been helpful. I was thinking I might write a column this weekend, but it's taking longer than expected to grade final exams.
    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
    Mother's Day, 2016


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

    >From: Dorothy H
    >Sent: Friday, May 6, 2016 6:56 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >After East shakes and puts the remaining tiles in the center of the table, what does she do with the tiles she counted? Does she leave it on the right or shove it to the left?
    >Rezzie

    Hi, Rezzie.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-CH. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer.

    Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    May 6, 2016


    When did breaking the wall appear, part 4

    >From: Anne P
    >Sent: Thursday, May 5, 2016 5:43 AM
    >Subject: Answer
    >Thank you for your patience and comprehensive answer. Anne P

    You're welcome, Anne, I'm glad the information I gave you satisfied your question. But I still wish I knew what this was all about! /^ ^\!
    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
    Cinco de Mayo, 2016


    When did breaking the wall appear, part 3

    >From: Anne P
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 1:07 PM
    >Subject: Breaking the wall
    >What year did breaking the wall appear on the back of the mah Jong card? Our group does break the wall. The oldest card that a friend had was 1976 and the rule did appear on the card. Many of the groups in the Maryland area do not break the wall, as well as my sister's group in the big apple. Thank you for your assistance. Anne P

    Anne, I still don't understand the point. Breaking the wall by rolling dice was always a rule, whether or not it was on the card. So I really don't know what difference it makes when it appeared on the card. You want me to do some work for you, but you won't tell me why you want me to do it!

    The first NMJL rulebook was Viola Cecil's 1938 book. She was the president of the League then. "BREAKING THE WALL" is described in detail on page 9. The League didn't have a card at that time (the book itself was the card).
    The rule to roll dice and break the wall was never dropped -- it wasn't on cards in the 1950s, but it was on cards in the 1960s -- but regardless whether it was on a card or not, it was always the rule. There isn't enough room on the card to print every rule. There have always been rules that are not on the card, for lack of space. I really wish you would tell me what this is all about. If you're having an argument with somebody, a rule's date of first appearance on the card is not the way to resolve it. I don't have a 1959, 1960, or 1961 card in my collection, so I can't give you an exact date.
    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
    May 4, 2016


    When did breaking the wall appear, part 2

    >From: Anne P
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 5:19 AM
    >Subject: Breaking the wall
    >What year did breaking the wall appear? Your assistance is greatly appreciated....Anne P

    Anne, please see the answer I posted yesterday (below). If your question is, "when did the rule begin," the answer is "when mah-jongg was created, in China, in the late 1800s." If your question really is, "when was the rule first shown on the card," then I really wonder why you're asking. If you're really asking "why roll dice," then ask that - I have written an FAQ about that. If you're looking for me to settle an argument, then tell me about the argument. I love settling arguments!
    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
    May 4, 2016


    When did breaking the wall appear on the NMJL card?

    >From: Anne P
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 3, 2016 7:43 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When did breaking the wall appear on the mahjong card?

    Hi, Anne.
    Breaking the wall was part of mah-jongg long before the National Mah Jongg League was formed, and long before the League printed a card. It's the way the deal works in China, and Japan, and the Philippines, and India, and Australia...
    But is it that your real question is "what year did the card first mention breaking the wall"? If so, why do you ask -- do you have an old card that doesn't mention it? If so, which card is that?
    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
    May 3, 2016


    Player C made the first discard, part 5

    >From: Jeanne P
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 3, 2016 12:25 PM
    >Subject: playing out of turn
    >If a player, who is not East, discards first in a game, what is the penalty?
    >Thanks for your help.

    Hi, Jeanne.
    As I wrote in response to Judi Nachenberg last week (below), that player should be called dead. But if you play at a tournament organized by Gladys Grad, that player may put the tile back without penalty (scroll down to see the April 29 post).
    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
    May 3, 2016


    If I accidentally put up two exposures in one turn, can I put it back?

    >From: Barbara D
    >Sent: Sunday, May 1, 2016 6:20 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg question
    >After calling a tile, I put it in my rack and completed the exposure. I went on nd put up another exposure which I wanted to take back BEFORE discarding. I did not call Mah Jongg. Can I put the second exposure back in my rack before discarding or am I dead? I look forward to your reply. Thank you. Barbara D

    Hi, Barbara.
    This is the first time in the 15+ years I've had this bulletin board that I've been asked this question! And I've never seen this question asked and answered in a yearly NMJL bulletin, either. I can only guess, then, at what the League would say, based on their other rulings.
    The way I read the League's other exposure rules: Actions in mah-jongg are a commitment. Once you've put up a second exposure in one turn, you are expected to expose all the rest of your hand. If you can't, you're dead.
    It's possible I'm wrong. To confirm with the League officially, you would need to send a letter to the League (don't telephone them). Read FAQ 19 -BN. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May Day, 2016


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

    >From: Greetings <tashara
    >Sent: Sunday, May 1, 2016 4:34 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can jokers be redeemed from a Mahj in error that was totally exposed as play continues? Thanks!

    Greetings, Greetings! (^_^)
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-P. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the 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
    May Day, 2016


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