SITE LINKS  

The Mah-Jongg FAQs
(Frequently Asked Questions)

19. American Mah-Jongg
16. The NMJL Card

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

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

Weekly Strategy Column

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

Other parts of Sloperama:
Hanafuda (Go-Stop)
Game Design Section
Business Section
Sloperama Home Page

The Mah Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    After you submit your comment or question, return to this board sometime later to see the response (below) - and keep coming back to see followup discussions. No shouting, please. Typing in all capital letters is considered "shouting." Nobody is allowed to shout here but me! (^_^) If your question or comment is typed in all capital letters, it will be converted to all lower case before being posted here with my reply. For reader enjoyment, humor is sometimes used in the responses that I give. Please don't be offended by a response given in the spirit of reader enlightenment and entertainment.

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


    Custom Search

    Share

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

    Keep scrolling - the Q&A is below.





  • How far back should we go to untangle a compounded error?

    >From: Stacey P W
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 6:19 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >We know that if a player is declared dead, the jokers that were exposed before that are still considered live, but the ones exposed with the death declaration are considered dead, so are not exchangeable. At our game tonight, one player called a flower and exposed her kong, which included a joker. The next player exchanged her flower for that joker. A moment later it was noticed that the kong was actually made up of 3 flowers and a 1 bam (the bam in this set is extremely flowery-looking and could easily be mistaken for a flower.) Was that joker actually dead and did we make a mistake allowing it to be exchanged?
    >Thanks,
    >Stacey

    Hi, Stacey. Your table didn't notice the 1B among the flowers until after the joker had been redeemed. If the error was noticed immediately (before the redeemer discarded, ending her turn - or even before the next player started her turn), then she should replace the joker, and the erroneous flower/1B kong should be returned to the sloping front of the erring player's rack (that's what always happens with erroneous exposures). But if the error was not noticed until some time after the redeemer discarded and another player played, then the redeemer can keep the joker (in my opinion). You can only unwind a cluster of errors just so far.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 3, 2015


    The rule is on the back of the card but we were not sure

    >From: Jacqueline D
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 4:58 AM
    >Subject: MahJongg Question
    >Good morning,
    >A player called for a tile (flower) and called MahJongg. She racked the four flowers then (before racking the rest of her hand) realized she did not have MahJongg. Does play continue without penalty or is her hand declared dead?
    >Thank you for clarifying. The rule is on the back of the card but we were not sure if she continued without penalty since she did not reveal her entire hand.
    >Thank you.
    >Jacqueline D

    Hi, Jacqueline. This is covered in "Mah Jongg In Error" rule 2 on the back of the card. She "exposed part or all of the hand." Read it again. I don't see why there is any room for confusion, the way the rule is written. *
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 3, 2015

    * (If a player declared mah-jongg and exposed part or all of her hand, what does rule 2 say should happen? She did expose part or all of her hand, did she not? The rule is clear. - Tom)


    Frequently Asked Questions, part 3

    >From: Louise D
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 3:59 AM
    >Subject: Re: MJ
    >Regarding this ruling [Lynn's letter, below], what if someone else puts the tile on the caller's rack? Is that allowed and does the rule still apply>
    >Lou

    >From: Louise D
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 3:57 AM
    >Subject: MJ
    >What is the window of opportunity to pick up a discarded tile? I know if the next player racks her tile, the last discarded tile is dead. But, we don't "pick and rack." I've had people call a discarded tile at the same time the next player is just about to name and discard her tile and lay it on the table. Can that previous tile still be called?
    >Lou

    >From: Louise D
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 3:52 AM
    >Subject: MJ
    >Why are there numbers on the flower tiles? Do the Chinese use the numbers in their version? If so, why do some sets NOT have numbers? ( like my mother's old set).
    >Lou

    Hi, Lou. You asked:

    Regarding this ruling [Lynn's letter, below], what if someone else puts the tile on the caller's rack? Is that allowed
    Yesterday when I checked the board to find other people who had previously asked that question, I found that on January 8 you had asked me about people placing the called discard atop the caller's rack. At that time I told you there was no official rule, and I referred you to a post written by "andi c" on September 19, 2014. I told andi, "no player should disregard etiquette and common sense." It's a very bad idea to put a tile on another player's rack, even though there is no rule that says it's not permitted. It's just common sense. Nobody should ever be putting tiles on another player's rack.*

    and does the rule still apply>
    The rule says, essentially, "once you have made an action, you've committed yourself to completing the action." No player has the right to commit another player to make any action. If another player places a called discard atop a caller's rack and the caller has a change of heart, she herself did not make an action to commit herself, so she should have the right to put it back. If your group has people putting things on top of other things willy-nilly, a stop should be put to that.

    What is the window of opportunity to pick up a discarded tile?
    Frequently Asked Question 19-C.

    I've had people call a discarded tile at the same time the next player is just about to name and discard her tile and lay it on the table. Can that previous tile still be called?
    The next player has not yet named the tile, and has not yet placed the tile on the table. Read FAQ 19-C.

    Why are there numbers on the flower tiles? Do the Chinese use the numbers in their version?
    Yes. The numbers correspond to the players' seat positions. Having a flower with your number on it doubled your score.

    If so, why do some sets NOT have numbers?
    Not all variants use flowers the same way the Chinese originally used them.

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

    * There's an exception to every rule, including this sentence. A player who's physically handicapped might welcome a little help obtaining tiles. Again: common sense.


    Does your guide need some correcting, part 3 - Mistakes in American mah-jongg, part 2 - Frequently Asked Questions about American mah-jongg, part 2

    >From: Lynn McD
    >Sent: Monday, March 2, 2015 2:35 PM
    >Subject: NMJL ruling on exposure change of heart
    >Hi Tom—
    >I’m attaching a photo of my recent question to the NMJL and their reply, which I received today, FYI.
    >Lynn McD.

    Hi, Lynn.
    Well, that's that, then! What I had written in FAQ 19-AM-2 was based on a phone conversation Elaine Sandberg had with someone at the League in October, 2008. This letter contradicts what Sandberg told me she was told. I have always said, "get it in writing." I took seriously what Sandberg told me since she is a respected fellow author. But as I wrote in FAQ 19-BN, there are too many ways the information can get screwed up if you get a ruling over the phone.

    FAQ 19-AM-2 also refers to the 2007 NMJL newsletter. And this new letter both contradicts Sandberg's phone call and reinforces what the League said in January, 2007:

      Once a tile has been called for exposure and the exposure is put on top of the rack*... PLAYER CANNOT DECIDE THAT SHE DID NOT WANT THE TILE*... A CALL FOR A TILE IS JUST LIKE A PICK FROM THE WALL, ONCE TAKEN... IT CANNOT BE PUT BACK."

    *In the places marked with an asterisk, I deleted some words for the sake of brevity.
    Based on this new ruling, I will make adjustments to FAQ 19-AM-2 -- and this also changes the erratum as to rule 60.c in my book. I'm amending the errata (downloadable from http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/rdww.htm) as follows:

      P. 53 - Rule 60.c. This rule as written in the book was misconstrued from a rule given in a yearly bulletin from the National Mah Jongg League. The League clarified the rule in the January 2007 bulletin and in a letter to Lynn McDonald (as recorded in the Sloperama.com Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board in early March, 2015):

      Once the player has either put the taken discard atop her rack or exposed tiles from her hand, she has committed to the play and may not rescind the move.

    Thank you, Lynn, for putting in the effort and for sharing the letter. This also affects the reply I gave to Linda on February 28 and Patricia F on February 24 and my response to Lou on January 8.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of
    the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 2, 2015


    Mahjong Collector Magazine

    >From: Katherine Hartman
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 6:52 AM
    >Subject: The Mahjong Collector Magazine - Now Taking Subscription Orders
    >For release February 2015
    >The Mahjong Collector
    >New print magazine
    >Now taking subscription orders
    >Contact information: info@mahjongcollector.com
    >Unique to the special interest, print magazine market is the new quarterly magazine, The Mahjong Collector.
    >This publication is unique for it is the only periodical dedicated to a diverse group of people - Mahjong tile set collectors, be they also players, researchers or students of the game.
    >Published by The Mahjong Collector Company Limited, The Mahjong Collector magazine will be composed of a range of in-depth articles and interviews, accompanied by high quality photographs, in glorious colour, of tile sets found in personal collections and museums.
    >The authors are drawn from all fields of enquiry and creativity related to the tile set, such as origins, materials, language symbolism, cultural variations and the aesthetics of tile set decorations for example.
    >This is a United Kingdom publication. Subscriptions: subscriptions@mahjongcollector.com Subscription rates for four quarterly issues: UK £26.00, USA $56.00, all other mailing addresses please inquire at info@mahjongcollector.com

    And might I add, there will be articles by me! (^_^)
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 2, 2015


    Odds & Evens (was: A question that is not American)

    >From: RayHeaton
    >Sent: Monday, March 2, 2015 4:43 AM
    >Subject: A question that is not American MJ
    >Hi Tom,
    >Referring to HM Tilden's question about the Odds and Even's hand (rather than "Odds and Ends" as HM described), I thought I'd refer you back to your own answer from 28th/29th April 2012!
    >I guess that your previous answer (i.e. the one from 2012) is perhaps a more likely interpretation of the hand, though I think your new answer is probably more challenging to play!
    >Regards
    >Ray

    Hi, Ray.
    I had to exercise my little gray cells to figure out the quickest way to find April 2012 in the Bb archive, but I found it.
    http://sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive22.htm#oddsevens. And thanks to Rosie (madhuvidya61), I found the entry on page 60 of T&M's "Companion." The entry there is not at all like what HM Tilden said.

    T&M, Companion, 60:

      ●● N/I Odds & Evens ... ODD numbers in two suits + EVEN numbers in third suit ... 1500 600

    HM Tilden:

      Odds and Ends... Odd numbers in two suits even numbers in third suit 1 tile of each.

    I don't know where HM got the "1 tile of each" - maybe somewhere else in one of T&M's books. Three years ago when Rosie asked her question, I don't remember if I checked to see what the two red dots mean. Today I looked it up and found that it means "pungs may be exposed." Which means that "1 tile of each" is probably not a requirement (no idea if that's even permitted, unless T&M mention the hand somewhere else and say so).

    Some more explanation of the meaning of T&M's listing: "N/I" means "not illustrated," and the first number indicates the "winning" value; the second number indicates the "fishing" value (a player can score on an almost-finished hand, waiting for just one tile).

    For the sake of convenience, here are the two illustrations I made:


    My 2012 interpretation, based on T&M's description (it needs a pair added)


    My 2015 interpretation, based on HMT's description

    I honestly do not know which one is correct. Looking at the score, though -- compared to neighboring hands' scores, Odds & Evens scores quite high -- comparable to seven-pair hands - which seems to indicate that it ought to be a hand made of singles rather than simple pungs and a pair. I'm leaning towards the singles hand, and am dubious of my 2012 interpretation.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 2, 2015


    Are you great at math?

    >From: Amey G
    >Sent: Sunday, March 1, 2015 8:03 PM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    >PayPal
    >You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $25.00 USD from Amey G
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Message: Thanks for your mah-jongg enthusiasm, expertise and common sense advice. Your aptitude for gaming is formidable and I don't pretend to understand it (are you great at math?), but it's been very helpful as well as amusing to read about! Best wishes, Sincerely, Amey

    Thank you so very much, Amey. I am not great at math. I suppose if I was, I'd be a better player!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 2, 2015


    A question that is not American MJ

    >From: Tilden H
    >Sent: Monday, February 23, 2015 1:23 PM
    >Subject: Chinese MJ question
    >Dont know if you can answer a question that is not American MJ but here goes…
    >I bought a book by Thompson and Maloney that illustrates most hands with tiles. the hand I am asking about is Odds and Ends and is not illustrated. Are you familiar with the tile makeup? the book states:Odd numbers in two suits even numbers in third suit 1 tile of each.
    >It does not specify pongs, pairs, chows or anything.
    >Thank you
    >HM Tilden
    > "If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours".

    Hi, HM.
    Unfortunately, your email somehow made its way into my Spam folder, and I didn't see it until I was cleaning it out today. I usually reply much quicker than this, I promise! You wrote:

    Dont know if you can answer a question that is not American MJ
    Of course I can. Most questions that come my way are about American mah-jongg, since American mah-jongg is more complicated than any of the others. But I'm knowledgeable about several variants (not only American).

    I bought a book by Thompson and Maloney that illustrates most hands with tiles.
    Thompson and Malone wrote several books (I have 3 in my collection). You didn't say which book you have.

    the hand I am asking about is Odds and Ends and is not illustrated. Are you familiar with the tile makeup?
    Odds And Ends is not mentioned at all in "Improve Your Mah Jong," nor in "The Mah Jong Player's Companion." So I assume you myst have "The Game Of Mah Jong Illustrated." ... Hmm, no, I didn't find it there either. What is the title of your book? I didn't find the hand in any of the 3 T&M books in my collection.

    the book states:Odd numbers in two suits even numbers in third suit 1 tile of each.
    Let's try this:

    See, that's 14 tiles. There are 5 different odd numbers between 1 and 9, and 4 different even numbers. 5+5+4=14. All I did was use one of each odd, and one of each even, together with the description you gave.

    Subject: Chinese MJ question
    Actually, no. T&M's variant is actually Australian/British/Western. NOT Chinese. It's more similar to Chinese than American mah-jongg is (American is the oddball of the mah-jongg world) - but it's not Chinese. Chinese mah-jongg doesn't have all those special hands you find in Western mah-jongg. T&M sometimes do also include Chinese mah-jongg in their books (as a small subsection of the book) - but they always denote the difference.

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


    Does your guide need some correcting, part 2

    >From: Linda P
    >Sent: Saturday, February 28, 2015 1:54 PM
    >Subject: Re: A beginners guide to American Mah Jongg ( correcting the exposure)
    >Sorry to bother you with my questions.
    >I am well aware you are not Elaine Sandberg but since you are listed as game designer, producer and consultant I just thought you could clear the confusion as I see it.
    >Page 92 fourth restriction states after calling a tile the player must make an exposure of that combination
    >Page 93 states if you call for a tile and place on the rack you don't have to make an exposure. You can return the tile.
    >I guess after spending 34 as an analyst of computer instructions I am sensitive to instructions.
    >Again I apologize
    >Linda

    No need to apologize, Linda. But if you read what you wrote before, you'll have to admit that you were talking as if I had written Sandberg's book. Also, you still have not asked me a question that I haven't addressed.

    I am well aware you are not Elaine Sandberg but since you are listed as game designer, producer and consultant I just thought you could clear the confusion as I see it.
    I'm also a college teacher and guitar player, but none of those things are my role here. My role here on this board is mah-jongg expert. Ask a question and I'll give it my best try.

    Page 92 fourth restriction states after calling a tile the player must make an exposure of that combination
    I saw that on page 92, and I addressed this in my previous reply. What is your follow-up question? Have you read the "change of heart" FAQ here on my website, in FAQ 19?

    Page 93 states if you call for a tile and place on the rack you don't have to make an exposure. You can return the tile.
    I saw that on page 93, and I addressed this in my previous reply. The League has given Elaine two different rulings on this, as I wrote in FAQ 19-AM. Did you read it? Still got a question?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 28, 2015


    Does your guide need some correcting.

    >From: Linda P
    >Sent: Saturday, February 28, 2015 7:07 AM
    >Subject: A beginners guide to American Mah Jongg ( correcting the exposure)
    >While playing Mahjongg a problem came up and the players had 2 different answers so we placed a call the the American Mahjongg League to get the official rule.
    >According to what I read in the beginners guide by Elaine Sandberg there is a discrepancy of rules.
    >Question to NML: when a player calls a tile places it on the rack can they then return it to the table.
    >Answer: No, when a tile is placed on the rack it then belongs to the player. If they can't make an exposure because they made a mistake by calling the tile then their hand is dead.
    >According to the beginners manual on page 93 you state the tile can be returned.
    >And on page 92 you say a player MUST place tile on rack and make an exposure.
    >Does your guide need some correcting
    >Thank you
    >Linda

    Hi, Linda. To address the points you made:

    so we placed a call the the American Mahjongg League to get the official rule.
    That's not the best way to get the official rule. See Frequently Asked Question 19-BN. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    According to what I read in the beginners guide by Elaine Sandberg there is a discrepancy of rules.
    Where does Sandberg say that there's a discrepancy?

    Question to NML: when a player calls a tile places it on the rack can they then return it to the table.
    >Answer: No, when a tile is placed on the rack it then belongs to the player. If they can't make an exposure because they made a mistake by calling the tile then their hand is dead.
    The League has flip-flopped on that; they have officially said that there is "the tournament rule" (which is kind of odd, since the League has never issued tournament rules) and "the home rule." See FAQ 19-AM. *

    According to the beginners manual on page 93 you state the tile can be returned.
    I looked at page 93. I don't see any mention of my name there.

    And on page 92 you say ...
    I don't say anything on page 92. My name is not Elaine Sandberg. My name is Tom Sloper. I'm not the author of that book. I just wrote the foreword.

    ... a player MUST place tile on rack and make an exposure.
    If I understand you correctly, you're objecting to Sandberg's wording because it seems to say that one cannot have a change of heart between the verbalization and the making of the exposure. If that's what you're saying, I think that's an overly strict reading of what she intended to say.

    Does your guide need some correcting
    If you can find an error here on my website, please specify its location - I am always ready to make corrections. But I have no say whatsoever over Elaine Sandberg's book, and I do not feel obligated to collect errata for her book.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 28, 2015

    * After doing a bit more digging, I edited/rewrote my initial reply above. I'd originally said "Correct. That's what I wrote in FAQ 19-AM (the "change of heart" rules)." - But if you see FAQ 19-AM, you see that that isn't what I wrote there (based on Sandberg's report of her discussion with, I presume, Ruth Unger, the president of the National Mah Jongg League).
    UPDATE: see Lynn McD's letter from the League, reported on March 2, 2015. The rule has been definitively clarified.


    The unusual thing about this set

    >From: Ellen Chisesi
    >Sent: Friday, February 27, 2015 6:31 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mahjong Tiled
    >Hi Tom,
    >I just sent the picture of my mahjong set and request for some blank tiles to make into jokers, sure hope someone can help! I measured with a tape measure and hope the measurements are accurate. The unusual thing about this set are the 'B' outlined with black scrolling for the white dragon. Do you know what country this is from?
    >Thanks, Ellen

    Hi, Ellen.
    Yes, your announcement has been posted on the Tiles Wanted board.
    I don’t think your tiles are unusual; see FAQ 7E. Your tiles might have been made in Taiwan or Korea, possibly. Maybe Japan. If your set has any paper materials, or if there’s any writing on the carrying case, there may be clues. By the way, I highly doubt you can get more blanks to match your tiles. It’ll be hard enough to find any tiles that match yours. Read FAQ 7Q.
    May the tiles be with you. (Literally!)
    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
    February 27, 2015


    It's unique, but how unique?

    >From: Nicki
    >Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2015 6:59 AM
    >Subject: Unique Set?
    >Hi Tom
    >Firstly I would like to say how helpful your site has been in my education of Mah-jong sets including their age, composition etc, so thank you for that.
    >I have just acquired a set I have never come across before. The tiles are made from Mahogany and I believe Satin Wood. Each is hand painted to the highest quality I’ve seen. However they are house in a 'converted' Windsor Newton paint box. I have attached some photo's for you.
    >I’ve just two questions really. I’m presuming this is 'homemade', a one off, would you agree? What sort of value would you say this set could have?
    >I look forward to your reply but I am not overly concerned if you feel you cannot answer either question.
    >Kind regards
    >Nicki

    Hi, Nicki. Your two questions are:

    I’m presuming this is 'homemade', a one off, would you agree?
    I have no way of knowing that. I've never seen one like it, but that doesn't mean it's a one-of-a-kind. "Rare" would not be inappropriate. It's interesting that you know that the box is a "Windsor Newton paint box," and I don't know how you know that (since you didn't say or show). If it's a repurposed box, that can sometimes indicate a one-of-a-kind set. It appears that your tiles are just the right size for your box; that might be simple happenstance, or (depending on the measurements of the tiles) perhaps the tiles were made for the box, instead of the other way around.

    What sort of value would you say this set could have?
    No way of knowing that, either. Maybe multiple hundreds of dollars. Maybe. It is very attractive.

    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
    February 26, 2015


    Is there a 108-tile variant?

    >From: robert kalin
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2015 6:07 PM
    >Subject: Mahjong variant?
    >Simple question.
    >Is there a Mahjong variant out there that only uses the dots, bamboo & character tiles?
    >No winds, dragons, or jokers would be used.
    >I did a quick seach through your questionaire "What mahjong do I play" and I did not find one less than 136 tiles. Perhaps I did not seek enough.

    Hi, Robert.
    You looked in the right place. I would look in FAQ 2B, and search for "108" (since one suit is 36 tiles, and there are 3 suits). If you don't find it, then I don't know of one.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 25, 2015

    P.S. I looked, and there is one. - Tom


    Mistakes in American mah-jongg (calling a discard)

    >From: Patricia F
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 3:35 PM
    >Subject: Discard mistake
    >If a player picks up a discard ie 3bam and racks it with two other 3bams and then says I made a mistake what happens? Must she leave the racked 3 bams up on her rack?
    >Thank you in advance for your assistance in this matter.
    >Also what happens if a player picks a tile for a pair and racks it what happens? Is the hand dead or does the player return the tile?.
    >Pat F
    >Beachmom78

    Welcome to my website, Pat. I am assuming you are asking about American mah-jongg (played with the NMJL card). You asked:

    If a player picks up a discard ie 3bam and racks it with two other 3bams and then says I made a mistake what happens? Must she leave the racked 3 bams up on her rack?
    This question has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question, read the "change of heart" FAQ. That's Frequently Asked Question 19-AM*.

    Also what happens if a player picks a tile for a pair and racks it what happens? Is the hand dead or does the player return the tile?.
    The hand isn't dead yet. She still has the option of turning the pair into a pung or kong, if she's able, before making a discard and ending the turn. If she isn't able, then the answer in FAQ 19-AM still applies.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 24, 2015

    *UPDATE: see Lynn McD's letter from the League, reported on March 2, 2015. The rule has been definitively clarified.


    Is it permissible to have as many as 8 of a tile (using jokers)?

    >From: Louise W
    >Sent: Saturday, February 21, 2015 8:40 AM
    >Subject: American Mah-Jongg Question
    >?Hello Tom,
    >I have searched your website for the answer to this question but have not found it. If you would be so kind as to give me an answer, I would appreciate it.
    >If one player has exposed four tiles, can another player use jokers for the same four tiles.
    >For example, if one player has exposed four two dots, can the other player then use jokers for two dots?
    >Thank you for your answer.
    >Louise

    Louise, it is theoretically possible to have twelve 2Ds, because there are 4 natural 2Ds and 8 jokers. You agree, do you not, that this is theoretically possible? So why does there have to be a rule that says you're not allowed to have twelve (much less eight) 2Ds on a table at one time? I don't understand why you think there'd have to be a rule like that. (By the way: there isn't. When you can't find a rule in writing in the official rulebook or my book or my FAQs, it usually means it's not a rule.)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 21, 2015


    Illegal exposure returned to sloping front of rack

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Friday, February 20, 2015 6:36 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Playing by NMJL rules: Today I was playing with my regular group and I called a green dragon and displayed it with my green dragon and a joker. Next I called a red dragon and displayed it with my red dragon and a joker. Player to my right called me dead which I realized I was since I displayed part of a concealed hand. I started to put red dragons and joker on my sloping rack when one of the players questioned why I
    >she couldn’t take my joker. I said that the joker with the 2 red dragons was dead because it was a concealed hand and had to be put back on the slanted rack. I thought that the green set should also be put on slanted rack because hand was dead with that one too even though no one had caught it. One of ladies said to take a vote and 2 others agreed with her and she said majority ruled so I left green dragons and joker on top rack.
    >1.How should this play have been handled? 2. Should both sets have been placed on sloping rack? 3. Should the joker with the green dragons have been available for other players to claim? 4. What about "majority ruling" over the NMJL’s rules?
    >I checked your Q&A and "RD & WW" but couldn’t find anything about majority rules so concluded if you can’t find "IT’'" it is not a rule!!! Again thanks for all you hard work for your book, strategy columns and Q&A columns. Luckily the past several games the tiles and jokers have been with me. Lynn

    Hi, Lynn.
    You should have shown the rule in writing. Rule 106 on page 64.
    Yes.
    Already answered.
    If you don't show the rule in writing, what other choice is there?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 21, 2015


    Please share the rules about challenging a fellow player

    >From: Edith C
    >Sent: Friday, February 20, 2015 6:19 AM
    >Subject: A Question...
    >Dear Mr. Sloper,
    >Thank you for your extraordinary efforts and work in sharing your vast wealth of knowledge and information about Mah Jongg.
    >I wondered if you could share some "rules" in American Mah Jongg about when it is appropriate to challenge a fellow player and how this is accomplished. I have gathered some of the basics (if a hand is determined to be a concealed once certain exposures are made, etc.)
    >Many thanks for your great contributions!
    >Best wishes,
    >Edie

    I thought I already did, Edith. FAQ 19-AA describes several reasons why a player may make a "death challenge." Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-AA. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 20, 2015


    Are these bone or plastic?

    >From: Victoria Argabright
    >Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2015 3:03 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >This set is, I believe, a cream plastic with a bamboo back. The tiles are a little larger than the bone and bamboo sets of the 20's and appear to be new. The measurements are:
    >1 3/16" long
    >7/8" wide
    >5/8" deep
    >I just watched a little movie clip of making bone and bamboo tiles today and now I think these could be bone and bamboo. Before placing a request for 2 #8 Dots on Tiles Wanted, I wanted to ask your opinion of what these tiles are made of. I have a number of old bone and bamboo sets but these tiles are new with no markings other than the side view in my last picture.
    >If I can't find 2 #8 Dots, I would be interested in any tiles that measure the same size and I would sticker them. Thank you so much for your help, Tom.
    >Name: Victoria
    >Email: vicddooda at verizon.net

    Hi, Victoria. You wrote:

    This set is, I believe, a cream plastic... I think these could be bone and bamboo. Before placing a request for 2 #8 Dots on Tiles Wanted, I wanted to ask your opinion of what these tiles are made of
    If you tap some plastic items and tap a bone tile, you'll hear distinct differences. Natural materials sound very different from artificial manmade materials. I can't touch your tiles, and I can't tell for sure from your photos, but look at your first photo (the one with the clear view of the intricate details in your 8D tile) - that kind of geometrically-perfect and symmetrical detail cannot be hand-carved. It has to be machine-made. That means your tiles can't be bone, and must be plastic instead. Notice how thick the white material is, and how thin the bamboo back is -- it'd be extremely rare to find bone tiles with that much bone compared with such thin bamboo.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 19, 2015


    Special hands, part 2

    >From: Cheryl M
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 5:02 AM
    >Subject: RE: Question re playing Special Hands
    >Mr. Sloper,
    >Thank you for answering my question. I didn’t report which "kind of mah-jong" we play because that’s not at all clear to me despite going through your FAQs. (I really do read before posting questions). The casual group with which I play doesn’t mess with scoring at all. Further, although they include flowers, when drawn they are promptly removed to the "flower wall". Makes zero sense to me but as one of the newer members to the group I didn’t feel it right to question our "coach". It’s most frustrating which is why I come here for clarification.
    >Please bear with me. Back to my question about special hands. . . in the hypothetical. We’re playing. I have no idea what special hand you’re playing. I have two tiles to discard. How do I evaluate which will be of greater or lesser value to you without knowing what you’re playing? Or – you go out or "mahjong out" or whatever the official terminology. You reveal you’ve been playing "Mad Runs" in which, according to the directions we have, all the tiles must’ve come from the wall. How can we have been expected to remember if you took a discard (rather than from the wall) earlier in the hand?
    >What are we/I missing?
    >Thank you, in advance, for your help.
    >Cheryl
    >Still in Katy, TX

    Hi, Cheryl. You wrote:

    although they include flowers, when drawn they are promptly removed to the "flower wall". Makes zero sense to me
    Makes none to me, too. The "flower wall" is supposed to be a place you draw flower replacements from - it's for withdrawals, not deposits. Flowers are supposed to be melded, the same way (and the same place where) you meld pungs and chows.

    in the hypothetical. We’re playing. I have no idea what special hand you’re playing.
    Of course. But if I have exposures, and/or if you're watching my discards, you might possibly be able to figure it out.

    I have two tiles to discard. How do I evaluate which will be of greater or lesser value to you without knowing what you’re playing?
    By watching what I discard, and by my body language when I observe other discards.

    Or – you go out or "mahjong out" or whatever the official terminology. You reveal you’ve been playing "Mad Runs" in which, according to the directions we have, all the tiles must’ve come from the wall.
    I don't see a problem here - it's easy to tell if a player has made an exposure prior to declaring mah-jongg on a concealed hand. Just be minimally observant.

    How can we have been expected to remember if you took a discard (rather than from the wall) earlier in the hand?
    Taking a discard requires the player to expose a completed set. You can never take a discard and put it among your concealed tiles. Never, I say!

    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
    February 18, 2015


    Called me dead, part 2

    >From: Janice M via PayPal
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 6:04 AM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    >PayPal
    >You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $5.00 USD from Janice M

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


    Teaching aids, part 2

    >From: Mary E
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 8:32 PM
    >Subject: Re: a couple of things
    >Thank you, Tom. I tell all my students to please check out your website if they are serious about Mah jongg!!
    >Best,
    >Mary


    Special hands

    >From: Cheryl M
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 5:09 PM
    >Subject: Question re playing Special Hands
    >Good evening,
    >I’ve read references to many of the special hands but I have missed one major factor – must the 4 players at the table agree on one special hand they’re playing or can each player identify their own?
    >Since the rules vary as to how/when one can draw it would seem terribly confusing if 4 different hands were being played at the same time. Like playing poker with one guy playing Texas Hold’em, another playing draw, another doing Omaha and the last playing High/Low.
    >But someone in our group insists everyone can do their own thing.
    >Thank you.
    >Cheryl M
    >Katy, TX

    Hi, Cheryl.
    The first thing that came to my mind upon reading your email was "what kind of mah-jongg are we talking about?" Your name sounded familiar, so I looked through the posts below. You wrote me on the 13th, but you never said which mah-jongg variant you play. On re-reading your question I realized that I could still answer it anyway. Each player decides for herself which hand she wants to go for. Going for a different hand is not the same thing as playing Omaha versus Texas Hold'em. Going for a special hand is like going for a Royal Flush versus a Full House.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 17, 2015


    Teaching aids

    >From: Mary E
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 9:58 AM
    >Subject: a couple of things
    >Hello, Tom,
    >I was curious about this website you have listed for meeting other players. Someone must have bought it cuz now it's (strangely) to do with e-cigs: (http://www.mahjonggmatchup.com)
    >I was also asked yesterday if there was some significance to the bird being on the one bam....? I sure didn't know but figured you would, if there even is a reason!
    >If I may be so bold, I've made up a set of lesson plans I use for teaching MJ and attached them. I wonder if you'd care to review/edit/share them with any other upcoming teachers out there? I'd much rather use your own but hadn't seen a similar set of your own in one easily accessible place (??) You'll see that I've used (stolen?) a good deal of your ideas and information from your website! I've also used your FAQs to build my test questions (which I am also attaching) which let me know those things which need reminding about.
    >I've been teaching for about 20 months now and really enjoy it, editing my own lessons over time. I hope that you will find them reasonably good enough to share. I find that 4 sessions of 2 1/2 hours each works pretty well.
    >Anymore, I just kind of go with the flow of the group, but this could maybe give a new teacher a printable, all-in-one-place, beginning plan of attack....?
    >Humbly hoping I'm not overstepping any bounds here,
    >Mary E

    Hi, Mary.
    I'll find wherever I mentioned mahjonggmatchup, and delete the link. Thanks for letting me know. (Okay, I found one in FAQfindplayer.html, AKA FAQ 15 - hope that was the only link.) You also wrote:

    I was also asked yesterday if there was some significance to the bird being on the one bam....?
    I always just say that it has to do with the fact that birds like to perch on bamboo trees. (And of course the other bird connection is the fact that mixing bone-and-bamboo tiles sounds like sparrows squabbling over thrown bread crumbs, which led to the name "mah que," which means "sparrow," so I say the game's name means sparrow.)

    If I may be so bold, I've made up a set of lesson plans I use for teaching MJ and attached them. I wonder if you'd care to review/edit/share them with any other upcoming teachers out there?
    I regret that I don't have time to review/edit them, but sharing is easy. Those files are now all in the http://www.sloperama.com/downlode/mahjongg/ folder, and anybody can click that link and read them. I added "Mary's" to the front of the two quizzes, so all your files are easy for other teachers to get.

    I'd much rather use your own but hadn't seen a similar set of your own in one easily accessible place (??)
    I haven't created any such materials. The handout I give to my students is subject to change, and it's too much work to keep updating on the site, and it never occurred to me to post it anyway.

    You'll see that I've used (stolen?) a good deal of your ideas and information from your website! I've also used your FAQs to build my test questions (which I am also attaching) which let me know those things which need reminding about.
    Aw. High praise!

    hoping I'm not overstepping any bounds here,
    No prob. I'm also adding this Q&A to FAQ 26, so future teachers can easily find your materials.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 17, 2015


    Called me dead but I wasn't

    >From: janice m
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 1:02 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: in playing Mahjong I was doing 555 7777 777 9999 and one of the ladies said she did not think I was doing a legal hand and she had the right to question it. I had all tile exposed except for 777 which I was hoping to get. By doing so she exposed my hand to all, course most could have already figured it out but is it correct to call down a player when in fact she was not right?

    Hi, Janice.
    Any player is permitted to call another player dead. But doing so entails a risk. So the person who called you dead when you had 555 7777 9999 (three exposures) exposed was risking having to pay you for her mistake. Read Frequently Asked Question 19-AB. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 17, 2015


    If a hand requires jokers can the rest of the hand score double for jokerless?

    >From: Lorraine VW <dragonfly14
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 12:28 PM
    >Subject: MJ joker ?
    >Question: If a hand calls for jokers and the rest of the hand is natural
    >tiles is it still considered joker less?
    >333 444 JJ 555 666 ex.

    Hi, Lorraine.
    I assume you are playing with the AMJA card, not the NMJL card. The joker pair is not permitted in NMJL rules. Only Lois Madow, the president of the AMJA, can answer your question. I assume she'll tell you no. In NMJL rules, you can't make a Quints hand and claim the jokerless bonus.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 17, 2015


    What the heck are these mystery tiles, and what am I missing?

    >From: Joan D
    >Sent: Saturday, February 14, 2015 9:27 AM
    >Subject: Majong set
    >I have a very old Majong set and am trying to understand what I am missing. I have all the dots, cracs, bam, dragons and wind. What are the pieces below and PLEASE tell me what is missing?
    >Joan from Alaska

    Those are flowers, Joan - see "the mystery tiles FAQ," Frequently Asked Question 7-E. You can link to the FAQs above left. What makes you think you're missing anything?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Valentine's Day, 2015


    Where can I get a better set than the one I bought?

    >From: Cheryl M
    >Sent: Friday, February 13, 2015 2:58 PM
    >Subject: Looking to purchase a mahjong set - please help.
    >Good afternoon, Mr. Sloper.
    >After MUCH searching I was very relieved to find your website. I hope this email finds you well and in a helpful mood.
    >I am a sinophile – have been for as long as I can remember. I was first exposed to mahjong in 1989 courtesy of Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club and I’ve wanted to learn to play ever since. Last year I met a group of ladies here in my corner of suburban Houston who get together once a month to play. I was thrilled to learn and love playing.
    >Before I found your site and in a wave of excitement I found myself eager to own my own mahjong set and purchased via EBay what I thought looked like a good set. Alas, it would be considered a "travel set" and although the pieces seem fine I’ve seen the same set sell for less than half what I spent. Me thinks I got taken.
    >Although Houston has a sizeable Asian community I’ve not had any luck finding antique bone and bamboo sets here. I find the bone/bamboo to be more romantic and appeals more than Bakelite or Catalin. There was one shop here that I suspect would’ve had a set but they went out of business just before I learned to play. I contacted the owners – now in New Mexico – but they couldn’t or wouldn’t recommend a different shop. Oddly enough there’s a shop here in Katy but they specialize in the plastic sets.
    >So – to get to my question – would you, please, recommend an honest broker/dealer/site that you would trust? I’m willing to pay a reasonable price for the real thing but fear getting taken once again.
    >Many thanks for whatever help you might offer.
    >Best,
    >Cheryl M
    >Katy, TX

    Hi, Cheryl.
    Please read "Frequently Asked Questions" 7-J & 7-K and check out the vendors in FAQ 4-A. You can link to the FAQs above left. That's all the information I have. I've bought many great sets on Ebay, and yes, some clunkers too.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Friday the 13th, February, 2015


    Counterclockwise, clockwise, part 5

    Got a little time before I head off to AJU for this week's mah-jongg class. Checked my copy of Sandberg, and page 66 is definitely not blank. Arlene, it sounds to me like you have a flawed printing. - Tom


    Counterclockwise, clockwise, part 4

    >From: Arlene W
    >Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2015 11:20 AM
    >Subject: Re: Rotations in American Mah Jongg
    >Sorry to bother you again. You referred to pages 60 and 66 in your response. In my copy of Elaine Sandberg's book, page 66 is totally blank. Did I receive an improperly printed copy from Amazon?

    I don't know, Arlene. I'm at work right now, without my copy of Sandberg, and my schedule for today and tomorrow doesn't give me time at home to check her book again. When I checked it on Tuesday I could have been tired (I have been sick and overworked lately) and I could have simply given the wrong page numbers. I thought I was looking at page 66 but maybe I wasn't. It doesn't really matter which pages I checked before, does it? I was just looking for where she described how to break the wall, and how to deal, and how to serve the wall. I see what she wrote on page 100, and yes, that's completely confusing and misleading. But now you know, from my FAQs, what is correct.
    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
    February 12, 2015

    P.S. Sorry for being cranky when I wrote the above, Arlene. I wasn't feeling well. Better now! - Tom


    Is 2014 a kong?

    >From: Norene M
    >Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2015 8:03 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Could you tell me if when playing an exposed hand a person is allowed to pick up a discarded tile to make the combination 2014 and then expose it?
    >I guess my question is: is the combination of tiles 2 soap 1 4 a kong?
    >Thanks
    >Norene R
    >Winter Park Florida 32789

    Welcome to my site, Norene. This question has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-E. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 12, 2015


    How does seat rotation work?

    >From: Gail E L
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 11, 2015 5:03 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >4 players, which way do we rotate after 8 hands?
    >Thank you
    >Gail

    Welcome to my website, Gail.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-BB. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 11, 2015


    Should we use table rotation in Inter Club play?

    >From: "Bontonlynch
    >Sent: Monday, February 9, 2015 9:04 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom.
    >I am organizing Inter Club American Mah Jongg between 2 clubs this summer. I have never done this before and would appreciate any guidance to make this run smoothly.
    >I just read some of your guidance on running a tournament for seat rotation. Do you recommend this for Inter Club weekly play? We will be playing for 2 hour sessions a day, twice weekly.
    >Any suggestions and guidance would be appreciated.
    >I love your web site (I would have put "love" in caps, but I see you do not like shouting!) and refer to your site often.
    >Thank you for all you do in the spirit of the game!
    >And may the tiles be with you as well!
    >Bonnie L

    It depends, Bonnie. What purpose do you hope to achieve by rotating tables in your Inter Club play? In a tournament, there is a very clear purpose for rotating players from table to table - since it's a competition, it's important to give players the widest opportunity to play with a variety of players (so that no single four-person chemistry influences, adversely or favorably, a player's score). If your two clubs are playing friendly casual games with no competition, you can let the players choose who to play with. But if your two clubs are playing for some sort of stakes or honors, or if you want to encourage mingling between the clubs, then yes, table rotation would be the way to go.
    And thanks for the kind words.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 10, 2015


    Counterclockwise, clockwise, part 3

    >From: Arlene W
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 10:04 AM
    >Subject: Re: Rotations in American Mah Jongg
    >The seemingly contradictory information is on page 100. It is the 2nd bullet item on that page. Obviously in any continuous configuration there could be ambiguity. From "right to left" could mean in the direction from a player's right hand to her left hand. This would incorrectly imply the direction of play. Really, what is meant, I believe is from a player's right hand around the circle and ending at her left hand. This would correctly identify the direction of play.
    >To eliminate this ambiguity may I suggest use of the terms clockwise and counter-clockwise to identify directions in Mah Jongg.

    Hi, Arlene.
    Okay, page 100, 2nd bullet. I see it now.

      Players, from right to left, pick tiles from the wall, rack, and discard.

    When you first said there was confusing wording in Elaine Sandberg's book, I looked at pages 60 and 66, and didn't see any problematic wording. Didn't look on page 100. I agree totally that the 2nd bullet on page 100 (quoted above) is worded confusingly. Since Ms. Sandberg's health no longer permits her to make any edits or upgrades to her books, and since I wrote nothing more than the foreword in that book, there is nothing I can do but provide the best wording I can here on my site (in my FAQs and on this board).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 10, 2015


    I'm sure this has been asked before, but I beg your indulgence

    >From: Deb P
    >Sent: Monday, February 9, 2015 4:47 PM
    >Subject: Mah jongg ?
    >Hi Tom,
    >I'm sure this question has been answered before, but I beg your indulgence...pretend your dear mother is asking nicely. If you have a joker on your rack, may you pick up a previously dicarded tile to make a pair with the joker and declare mah jong? Thanks! Knowing the correct answer will allow me a good night's sleep!
    >Deb

    Hello, Deb. You wrote:

    pretend your dear mother is asking...
    I gather that you have read a few of my previous replies and you're saying you don't care for the Sloper charm - or that you don't want me to say "please read FAQ ##. You can link to the FAQs above left," and all that.

    ... nicely.
    And how else would my dear mother ask me??! Harumph!

    If you have a joker on your rack,
    Unclear. Are you saying it's on the concealed side (the sloping front) or atop the upper surface, as part of an exposure?

    may you pick up a previously dicarded tile
    You can never pick up a previously discarded tile. Only the current live discard is available for calling.

    to make a pair with the joker
    Please look at your NMJL card. The back of the card, the left pane, last sentence of the bottom paragraph (before the numbered rules). Look for the word "NEVER" (in all capital letters, bold text, and underlined just like that). While you're at it, Mom, I think it'd be a good idea if you read the rest of the back of the card.

    All that stuff about having a joker on the rack, and picking up a previously discarded tile, was unnecessary to the question. "Can I make a pair with a joker" is also answered in FAQ 19-E. And, um, well, you can link to the FAQs above left.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 9, 2015


    Win by joker redemption

    >From: Andrea B
    >Sent: Sunday, February 8, 2015 4:03 PM
    >Subject: Is this a "self picked" mahjongg?
    >Hi Tom. I could not find an answer to this question in your book or on the BB:
    >I made Mahjongg by picking a tile from the wall that I then used to take a joker from another player. How is that treated for payment purposes?
    >Thank you.
    >Andrea B

    Hi, Andrea.
    In my book, see rule 88 at the bottom of page 58. Here on this website, you find answers more easily in the FAQs than on the BB. See FAQ 19-AN. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. 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 (rather than this board), before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 8, 2015


    Can I redeem a joker atop my own rack?

    >From: joan k
    >Sent: Sunday, February 8, 2015 2:02 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I used a joker to complete/expose a kong. On my next turn, I realized I had had the proper tile in my hand all the time. Can I then redeem my joker with it?

    Welcome to my website, Joan.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-M-3. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 8, 2015


    Pausing a beat

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Sunday, February 8, 2015 10:06 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Background for questions: Player A to my left discarded a 4C which I (player B) needed but as she named tile and it just about hit the table the player to her left (Player D) grabbed the tile with her right hand while putting up 2 4C’s with her left. I said I wanted the 4C and was next to get it. She said she called it first and had already exposed.
    >#1 question: Citing your statement below (A) does the pausing also refer to a tile that someone discards?
    >#2 question: What if she doesn’t say the tile’s name when she claims it but... "just takes tile and exposes - player must verbalize claim in clear voice."
    > A. Be courteous: After player discards and says name of discard, PAUSE a beat before taking tile from the wall so all players have an opportunity to hear and see discarded tile before you pick and rack. Don’t hold tile in your hand. Put it on the sloping front rack.
    >B: So you're saying I can take my time?
    >** A2: No. There is such a thing as "too late." If a player has claimed the discard and exposed, it's too late for another player to speak her own claim for the tile. In RD&WW, p. 52 #59.
    >"To claim a discard, the player must vocalize the claim. p.52 #59 b. The player must speak the claim loudly and clearly enough so that all players can hear the claim." Player does not just take tile and expose – player must verbalize claim in clear voice.
    >I said she should have given the other 2 players a chance to see what the tile was and thus paused a beat. I realize she had already exposed so I couldn’t take the tile. I did have a winning steak throughout the whole afternoon since those tiles and jokers kept coming my way but other players wanted me to ask you. Thanks for all the help you have provided me in the past years. I promote your book every chance I get when we have subs or I sub in other groups. Lynn

    Hi, Lynn. Thanks for promoting my book. You wrote:

    She said she called it first and had already exposed.
    Technically, correct.

    Citing your statement below (A) does the pausing also refer to a tile that someone discards?
    No.

    What if she doesn’t say the tile’s name when she claims it
    One does not have to say the name of the tile one is claiming. But one should speak the claim. People may say, "I want that," or "call," or "take," or even "gimme."

    I said she should have given the other 2 players a chance to see what the tile was and thus paused a beat.
    Based on the way you described the incident, I gather that your player D was aware of the "once you have exposed, your claim takes precedence" rule, and aggressively and ungraciously snapped it up as quickly as possible, while simultaneously exposing tiles from her hand, to make sure nobody else would take it. That ignores the reason for the rule. The rule presupposes that someone takes the normal amount of time to claim a discard and make an exposure, and that another player is slow in deciding to make a conflicting claim.

    Players can interpret rules their own way. Another aggressive reaction to the "once you've exposed" rule would be to immediately expose one's tiles, before taking the time to reach for the discard. That definitely would be done intentionally to prevent anyone else getting the discard. That kind of intent would be ungracious and discourteous, and would not add to a game's harmony.

    I propose that you suggest this to your players:
    1. Allow the discarder to fully speak the name of the tile, put it on the table, and take her hand off it.
    2. Voice your claim.
    3. Using normal movement speed, not aggressively fast speed, reach for the tile and place it atop your rack.
    4. Then, again using normal movement speed, put up the other tiles that complete the exposed set.

    I don't think a pause is necessary anywhere in there. Simply making moves with deliberation and in the proper order gives others a chance to have their say.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 8, 2015


    Age and value

    >from: mike j
    >Sent: Sunday, February 8, 2015 8:47 AM
    >Subject: mahjong
    >Hi
    >I have a set missing 2 tiles. Do you have any spares. I would also appreciate it if you could provide more info on its age and value
    >Is this applejuice Bakelite . They are are in good used condition and are an opaque amber color. The tiles have fractures in them but they are intact. The tiles measue 14/16 x 1 3/16 and 1/2 inch thick. The case looks to be original and has a partial label on the bottom that says Hawaii.

    Hi, Mike. You wrote:

    I have a set missing 2 tiles. Do you have any spares.
    Have a look at the Tiles For Sale bulletin board. I'm also posting your request on the Tiles Wanted board.

    I would also appreciate it if you could provide more info on its age
    It's 50-70 years old.

    and value
    You haven't given me enough information. Read FAQ 7H. If you get that missing red dragon and 1-dot tile, it'll be worth more. You should take a look at these websites:

  • www.charli.org
  • www.mahjongmuseum.com
  • www.vintagemahjong.com/bakelite/

    Is this applejuice Bakelite .
    Yes.

    They are are ... an opaque amber color.
    They are decidedly NOT opaque. I think the word you were looking for is "translucent." In the image where you held a tile up to the light, one can see that there appears to be a cricket inside.  Crickets are considered good luck in Asia. 

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 8, 2015


    A player destroyed the wall, part 2

    >From: Irene H via PayPal
    >Sent: Thursday, February 5, 2015 9:10 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Irene H
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$5.00 USD from Irene H. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $5.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Confirmation number: #######
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Irene H
    >Message: Thank you...
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Irene!
    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
    February 5, 2015


    A player destroyed the wall

    >From: Irene H
    >Cc: Nancy G; Sibyl W; Betty S; Mary Ann C
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 4, 2015 5:00 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >We had a player call for mahjongg and expose in error. Obviously she was dead. Two of the other players did not expose their hands. However, the fourth player threw in her hand, thinking that the game was over. In the process, she knocked the remainder of the wall over, so that play could not continue. We did not know how to proceed, so we just quit the game and started over. What is the rule? What should we have done? Thanks....
    >Irene H

    Hi, Irene.
    The League has not, to my knowledge, issued a rule on this precise situation.* Rule 4(a) on page 16 of the rulebook describes how to proceed if one player throws in her hand after erroneous mah-jongg (leaving two surviving players), and rule 4(b) describes how to proceed if two players throw in their hands (leaving just one surviving player). There is no written rule describing how to proceed if the one player who throws in her hand destroys the wall (leaving nobody able to play at all).*
    Turn over the card and look at the back. Look at the sentence in all red, all capital letters, and all bold type, atop the middle pane of the card. That's rule #1 on page 15 of the rulebook.
    I think all you can do in this situation is what you did.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 4, 2015

    *Correction: I found the rule in my book, at the bottom of page 62: "If a player destroys the wall after another player has declared mah-jongg in error, the game ceases. She must pay the two surviving players the lowest hand value on the card." - Tom, Feb. 21 2015


    Donation

    >From: "service@paypal
    >To: Thomas Sloper
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 3, 2015 5:40 AM
    >Subject: You received a payment
    >PayPal
    >You received a payment
    >Feb 3, 2015 05:40:42 PST
    >Transaction ID: #######
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >You received a payment from Anita F for Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Customer details
    >Customer name: Anita F####
    >Customer email: ########
    >Profile ID: ######
    >Profile status: Active
    >Subscription details
    >Amount received: $5.00 USD
    >For: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Amount paid each time: $5.00 USD
    >Maximum amount you can bill: $5.00 USD
    >Billing cycle: Monthly
    >Next payment due: Mar 3, 2015
    >Help Center | Resolution Center | Security Center
    >Please don't reply to this email. It'll just confuse the computer that sent it and you won't get a response.
    >Copyright © 2015 PayPal, Inc. All rights reserved. PayPal is located at 2211 N. First St., San Jose, CA 95131.

    Thank you, Anita!


    Donation

    >From: Charlotte I via PayPal
    >To: Thomas Sloper
    >Sent: Monday, February 2, 2015 5:49 AM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    >PayPal
    >You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $50.00 USD from Charlotte I
    >Receipt ID: #######
    >The number above is the donor's receipt ID for this transaction. Please retain it for your records so that you will be able to reference this transaction for customer service.
    >View the details of this transaction online
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $50.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Confirmation number: ######
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Charlotte I
    >Message: Hi Tom, Love your site and Mah Jongg information. I appreciate what you have done. I have ordered your book. When I share this with others . . . would you prefer a donation to website or purchase your book? (let's face it - most are women and they are not going to do both - lol) Thanks again, Charlotte
    >Mailing Information:
    >Address #####
    >Address status Unconfirmed
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you very much, Charlotte! 
    As for my preferences, that's a toughie. Donations are an immediate plus, but buying my book increases the wealth of knowledge and understanding, which was my original intent.
    May the tiles be with you!
    Tom


    The window of opportunity - when does it open, and when does it close?

    >From: Ione and John
    >Sent: Monday, February 2, 2015 5:31 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When you are playing and someone announces and discards/places the tile on the table, at what point can someone CALL for that discarded tile????
    >I was taught to pick up and tap my tray. Then after the TAP, the discarded tile could no longer be called for.
    >Others don't tap, and we then don't know WHEN or how it is determined when the discarded tile can no longer be called for.
    >Thanks so much.
    >Ione

    Hi, Ione. You wrote:

    at what point can someone CALL for that discarded tile????
    You're asking when the "window of opportunity" on the discard opens. Read FAQ 19-A. You already know where the FAQs are.

    I was taught to pick up and tap my tray.
    You were taught wrongly. Read FAQ 19-AD.

    Also, it's not a "tray." It's a "rack." Please read FAQ-7D.

    Others don't tap, and we then don't know WHEN or how it is determined when the discarded tile can no longer be called for.
    You're asking when the "window of opportunity" closes. Read FAQ 19-C. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks! Also, every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (or (even better) my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.

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


    The bettor

    >From: Deborah B
    >Sent: Monday, February 2, 2015 12:43 PM
    >Subject: Fifth Person Betting
    >Hi
    >When there are five players--four at the table and one sitting out--at what point in play does the fifth person make her bet?
    >How does the fifth person record or note her bet so that it is not known by the other four players until the end of play?
    >Thank you for your terrific Q&A website
    >Debby

    Hi, Debby. You asked:

    at what point in play does the fifth person make her bet?
    After the Charleston and the courtesy pass, and before East discards the first tile. 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. 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!

    How does the fifth person record or note her bet so that it is not known by the other four players until the end of play?
    There are two common ways: (1) by using what American players call a "bettor" (I call it a Wind Indicator - see FAQ 7-D). The disc is rotated to indicate the seat position of the player she's betting will win. And (2) by writing the player's name on a pad of paper. Whether using a bettor or paper and pen, the recorded bet has to be placed somewhere where the players will not be able to read it during the course of play.

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


    Counterclockwise, clockwise, part 2

    >From: Arlene W
    >Sent: Saturday, January 31, 2015 5:30 PM
    >Subject: Re: Rotations in American Mah Jongg
    >Is there a fax number that I can send the seemingly contradictory page to. It appears to come from "A Beginner's Guide to American Mah Jongg" by Elaine Sandberg with a foreword by you. Other documents agree with the answers in FAQ19. Some do not discuss all 3 questions that I asked previously.
    >Thank you.

    Hi, Arlene.
    Fax?? I'm a bit behind the times - I mostly use carrier pigeon or Pony Express. One of these days I'll adopt modern whizzygigs like the fax machine.
    Kidding aside, just tell me the page number and paragraph number (count paragraphs from the top). I'll look at the wording and see if I can see (a) a mistake, or (b) the source of your confusion.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 31, 2015


    Counterclockwise, clockwise? I'm so confused!

    >From: Arlene W
    >Sent: Saturday, January 31, 2015 12:04 PM
    >Subject: Rotations in American Mah Jongg
    >I know this question has been asked before, but I have found conflicting answers in different documents.
    >Three rotations occur in American Mah Jongg:
    >1. The order of play.
    >2. The order of breaking the wall (or is it walls)? Does each player have his own wall or is there one wall around the table for all 4 players?
    >3. The order in which East is passed.
    >What is the correct order for each of these? Here is my understanding.
    >1. Play proceeds from left to right or counter-clockwise around the table. Correct or Incorrect?
    >2. The wall is broken from left to right or clockwise around the table.
    >Correct or incorrect?
    >3. East proceeds from left to right or counter-clockwise around the table. Correct or Incorrect?
    >Thank you very much for clarifying this for me. I would be happy to share the conflicting documents I have read if you would like.
    >Arlene Weisbach

    Hi, Arlene. You wrote:

    Play proceeds from left to right or counter-clockwise around the table. Correct or Incorrect?
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-Q. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    the wall (or is it walls)? Does each player have his own wall
    Yes.

    or is there one wall around the table for all 4 players?
    Yes. It's common to refer to both "the wall" and "her wall." Does it really make that much of a difference if it's one wall or four walls? Why does it have to be one or the other - why can't it be both?

    The wall is broken from left to right or clockwise around the table.
    >Correct or incorrect?
    Read FAQ 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. 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!

    East proceeds from left to right or counter-clockwise around the table. Correct or Incorrect?
    The order of movement of the dice to be used by East mirrors the order of play.
    Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (or (even better) my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.

    I would be happy to share the conflicting documents I have read if you would like.
    You didn't find conflicting information in the the official NMJL rulebook or my book (or my FAQs on this site). Should be worth knowing where you found conflicting information.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 31, 2015


    Is this an official rule, or a house rule?

    >From: Hedy G
    >Sent: Saturday, January 31, 2015 8:40 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >This is new to me. The players that I have recently started playing with have declared this. If east rolls doubles before breaking the wall, and east wins, she gets paid double as well. If another player wins she does not get paid double. Is this a rule or just a house rule.
    >Thank you
    >Hedy

    Hedy, there are two great ways to find out if a rule is a table rule or an official rule:
    Ask. The people you play with surely know if their rule is official or made up by them.
    Look in the rulebook (if the rule isn't in there, it probably isn't a rule). Every player owes it to herself, and to every player she plays with, to read the actual rules. Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (or, even better, my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    As long as we're talking, I should add: please read Frequently Asked Question 14. Your group is using a table rule, and you need to understand the rule about table rules.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 31, 2015


    When can a joker be redeemed?

    >From: Hedy G
    >Sent: Friday, January 30, 2015 9:02 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >At today's game when it was her turn, she first wanted to redeem a joker, and then call the tile that was just discarded, using the joker that she just redeemed. I explained that she could not do that. She must first pick or call, expose if she chose to call and then she can redeem the joker. She of course couldn't do that in that order so she picked, then redeemed the joker and had to wait for that tile to appear again. Was I right in my explanation of the order when it comes to redeeming a joker.
    >Thank you
    >Hedy G

    Hedy, welcome to my website. You wrote:
    Was I right in my explanation of the order when it comes to redeeming a joker.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-M. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 30, 2015


    Is this a technicality, part 4

    >From: "judi
    >Sent: Friday, January 30, 2015 6:45 AM
    >Subject: RE: bulletin board question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Yvonne already had an exposure with a joker in it so I assume she was playing N/S and odd numbers and then made an exposure of 3 souths or called the 3rd south for mah jongg which was why she was dead.
    >What if when she made the exposure she was not called dead, but a few more people took their turns and then she was called dead. Then everything goes back into the rack including the pung of numbers with the joker in it?
    >Bill & Judi Nachenberg
    >Mah Jongg Fun L.A.
    >818-764-6240

    Good morning, Judi.
    Again, see rule 3(b). The exposure that was in error goes back.
    As for your other question: It's often not discovered right away that an exposure is in error. When the error is noticed, the erroneous exposure (the 2nd exposure that gave away the hand) goes back. Any previous exposure can and should remain exposed, provided that the previous exposure was ambiguous (alone, it did not give away what the player was doing).
    Note that this reply is not specific to the example you cited - regardless of what Yvonne's situation was, rule 3(b) is pretty clear. See the sentence that begins with "However."
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 2, 2015


    Is this a technicality, part 3

    >From: "judi@mahjonggfunla dot com
    >Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2015 7:27 PM
    >Subject: bulletin board question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Regarding the question from "letstawk" about an exposure making her hand dead. I assume the exposure was 3 Souths. When she put up the 3 souths and was called dead, doesn't that exposure stay on her rack? I thought the only time the exposure would be put back into the rack was for mah jongg in error. And then everything that was not exposed prior to mah jongg would be put back into the rack. So if the 3 souths were exposed for everyone to see then the lady with the 4 norths and 4 easts exposed would be called dead and there would be no question. I am assuming the lady called the 3rd south for mah jongg and made her exposure of all of her tiles then everything would be returned to her rack. How she worded it was not clear.
    >Bill & Judi Nachenberg
    >Mah Jongg Fun L.A.

    Hi, Judi.
    See rule 3(b) on page 16 of the official rulebook. Also see FAQ 19-P and in my book, p. 64 (rule 106), p. 91, and p. 102. A pung of winds is "instant death," since it's erroneous, and it should be returned to the sloping front of the rack. My reading of Yvonne's January 22 question was that the dead player had a kong of souths, with one joker (she said the player had "a legal exposure with a joker").
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 2, 2015


    Online MJ game

    >From: Annabelle Y
    >Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2015 4:14 PM
    >Subject: Helpful online MJ game
    >Hi.... as a beginner, I am hoping that you will be able to suggest a few games online that I can use to practice. Our group does not meet frequently enough and I find that I am always feeling like a beginner rather than progressing. As you book had mentioned any of those online games would be helpful.
    >Would appreciate your giving me any you found to be good or had reviewers who had emailed you. AB

    Hi, Annabelle.
    Read "Frequently Asked Question" 5. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    You didn't say what kind of mah-jongg you play, but you mentioned my book. My book describes American and MCR (Chinese Official) rules. FAQ 5 lists computer games according to what kind of mah-jongg can be played there. Not many people have sent me reviews - finding those on archived pages of this board wouldn't be easy. And I have never wanted to show partiality or favoritism. (This is more of an information site than a review site.) You'll just have to try them and see what works for you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 2, 2015


    Why does the new card come in late March, part 3

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2015 2:25 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Regarding Cheryl B's question on why is the card "off cycle". I do not know the reason but the card has to "start" sometime, why not April? What real difference does it make when it starts? I surmise it might be because everyone is so busy during the holidays at the end of the year that having to mail out thousands or millions of new cards is not something the league wants to be doing during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Year's. I personally hate to have to make decisions on health care, taxes and other end of year things during this busy season, so I can see why they do this "off cycle" as it would be just one more thing for the ladies to stress over! I love the game no matter when the new card comes out. It also gives us something to look forward as Spring is springing.
    >Bee


    Is this "change of heart" allowed, part 2

    >From: bea m
    >Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2015 1:24 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah jong question
    >Tom,
    >I have used both computers in the house and i do not see your response to my email...sorry...can you help? Bea

    Bea,
    When I got your email, I decided I'd better check. I went to http://sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd.htm and there it was. Wait for the page to load completely, then scroll down to see your answer. The bulletin board is organized with the most recent posts at the top (just beneath the instructions), and oldest posts at the bottom. IF YOU DON'T SEE YOUR NEW ANSWER, THEN YOU NEED TO "REFRESH" OR "RELOAD" THE PAGE TO SEE THE MOST RECENT POSTS. Or use a different browser, like Safari, Chrome, IE, Firefox; one that hasn't been to my site before (this is especially a problem for AOL users, apparently).
    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
    January 29, 2015


    Is this "change of heart" allowed?

    >From: bea m
    >Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2015 10:29 AM
    >Subject: Mah jong question
    >During the charleston one player (the fastest) lays three tiles on the table to be passed. BEFORE any other player puts any tiles down on the table the fastest person picks up the tiles she had placed down and substitutes one for the original tile. Mind you, no one else has aid any tiles to pass on the table. Is the mind change allowed?

    Hi, Bea.
    I wrote about the "change of heart" rules in "Frequently Asked Question" 19-AM. (You can link to the FAQs above left.) There's nothing about this particular situation in those rules, though, because the League has never issued a ruling on it in the 20 or so years I've been playing American mah-jongg. You might want to write the League and ask. One could extrapolate from their previous rulings that once the player has put her three tiles down, she can't take them back. But changing her mind is the nature of woman -- this happens all the friggin' time when I play. I find it irritating, especially if I'm reaching for the tiles when she takes them back. I also find it irritating that many players keep a hand on the tiles while second-thinking. I want to pick up the tiles, but her hand is still on them. As a man playing a women's game with women, I just sigh a little and put up with the foibles.
    tl;dr: Since the League has not issued a ruling on this, there is no rule against it. Note, however, that there are gaps in my knowledge (many yearly bulletins that I do not have in my collection).
    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
    January 29, 2015

    Note: "tl;dr" means "too long; didn't read" but many use it to mean "if you think the above is too long, don't read it, and read this summary instead." And that's the way I used it above. :p


    I have made up my mind to donate 10.5 million

    >From: annruthjackson <annruthjackson@gmail.com>
    >To:
    >Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2015 8:43 AM
    >Subject: hi
    >Hello Peace be unto you,
    >I wish you and your family happy moments of life now and forever more amen.Please, I do not have formal relationship with you but because of my present predicament and circumstances I am made to contact you.I have been suffering from cancer and have a short life to leave.I have made up my mind to donate my inheritance of 10.5 million USD to the less privileged please help me to fulfill my last wish. I wait to hear from you
    >Thanks
    >Mrs annruthjackson

    Very generous of you, Mrs annruth. I am less privileged than some, I suppose. Or maybe you meant you want me to distribute your money for you. You are offering more than most of my contributors do, after all. Such work is a bit out of my experience, but what the hey. To send me the money, click this link. Sorry you have a short life to leave.
    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
    January 29, 2015

    P.S. I don't know how that one made it through the spam filters.


    Why does the new card come in late March, part 2

    >From: "cherylb
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 7:43 PM
    >Subject: Re: New MJ cards
    >Don't see right response. It's not about availability. But rather theoretically why off cycle.

    Cheryl, you wrote:

    Don't see right response.
    I don't understand what you mean. There's only one response. Did you go to FAQ 19 and read answer BU? Here's a direct link: http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq19.html#bu.

    It's not about availability. But rather theoretically why off cycle.
    It doesn't matter if your question is "theoretical" or "about availability." The answer I wrote in FAQ 19-BU is the only possible answer I can give you. Please read FAQ 19-BU. Click or tap the direct link I just gave you.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 27, 2015


    Why does the new card come in late March or early April instead of January? (FAQ 19-BU)

    >From: "cherylb
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 7:00 PM
    >Subject: New MJ cards
    >Why is it the annual card comes out in March? Why not have them ready and available to coincide with beginning of calendar year? Thanks Cheryl B

    Hello, Cheryl.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-BU. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 27, 2015


    Column 628 really struck a chord!

    >From: Donna
    >To: Tom@sloperama
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 11:53 AM
    >Subject: The League has a responsibility to its members to provide detailed and clearly-worded rules.
    >Hi Tom,
    >Your wrote in this week’s column:
    >"It's unfortunate that the official rules are written so loosely. The League has a responsibility to its members to provide detailed and clearly-worded rules."
    >It touches a cord with me as I believe the NMJL should be a resource on rules of the game, rather than mainly concentrating on publishing the card and giving money to charity. We members should think about requesting that they do so ---I guess in writing as they have been negligent in having an on-line presence even in the year 2015.
    >I really appreciate what you offer to the Mah Jongg community and am making my yearly donation.
    >Thanks,
    >Donna

    >From: Donna M via PayPal <member@paypal
    >To: Thomas Sloper <tomster@sloperama
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 4:44 PM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    >PayPal
    >You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $25.00 USD from Donna M
    >Receipt ID: [deleted]
    >The number above is the donor's receipt ID for this transaction. Please retain it for your records so that you will be able to reference this transaction for customer service.
    >View the details of this transaction online
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $25.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Confirmation number: [deleted]
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Donna M
    >Message: Thanks Tom ( my MJ guru) for all of your great insights and information!!!
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you very much, Donna. I'm glad I earned another donation from you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 27, 2015


    What if everybody wants to blind-pass?

    >From: Barbara M
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 4:29 PM
    >Subject: Stealing
    >Question; what if all four players want to steal on the last right?
    >Barbara M
    >Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Barbara. Please read column 534 and column 353. (Those are tappable links.)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 27, 2015


    What's the penalty for this kind of behavior?

    >From: Connie H
    >Sent: Monday, January 26, 2015 5:36 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player had three bams exposed, a flower was discarded and another player called for the
    >tile, the player with three bams exposed said wait she wanted it....once she took the flower her hand was dead. The question is what are the consequences (if anything other than declared dead) if it was done intentionally to stop the other player from getting the flower?

    Hi, Connie.
    Let's try to take this step by step. I'm not sure I'm following.

    Player A throws a flower, and says "flower."
    Player C says "I want it."
    Player B (next in turn from Player A) says, "no, I want it."
    Player B takes priority, so she gets the tile.
    Player B makes an exposure of flowers atop her rack.
    Because Player B has another exposure (of 3B, I have no idea how many - or there are three of them but I don't know what their denomination is), for some reason she is called dead. (This part I don't follow, so this step is probably wrong.)
    Player B does not deny that she's dead. She stops playing.
    The other players continue playing -- and, apparently, wondering if Player B should get some other penalty, since Player B's claim for the flower was done out of screw-your-neighbor competitiveness rather than a need for the flower.

    I don't know if steps 5 and 6 are correct, but regardless -- I don't know what other kind of penalty you're imagining, Connie.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 26, 2015


    Is this a technicality that voids another rule, part 2

    >From: "letstawk
    >Sent: Monday, January 26, 2015 11:18 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q A
    > (*.*)Hi Tom, Thanks for responding to my MJ question. Just wanted to let you know that your(take it ith a grain of salt)answer is correct. I have called the NMJL on occasion because sometimes an answer is needed in the middle of a game. However, when Marilyn said that it was a good question, she also was curious. She said Ruth Unger was not there that day. She asked for my name and phone number and said when she got the answer from Ruth she would call me back and let me know. Well, I am happy to inform you that she did call me back and the answer was the same as yours. Ruth Unger said that if one person remembers then she can call a player dead based on the tiles that were previously exposed and returned to the rack because player went dead. Just wanted you to know that your "grain of sand" turned out to be the "whole salt shaker". Thank you again. Yvonne Scott aka LetsTawk

    Hi Yvonne,
    Cool. It's good to have it confirmed. But it's still better if the League has an opportunity to put it in writing.
    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
    January 26, 2015


    Need a replacement tile

    >From: Westside School 2 <westsideschl1@comcast.net>
    >Sent: Monday, January 26, 2015 10:07 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Where do I get this replacement?  26mm x 18mm x 11mm Green Thanks, Gregg 
    >PastedGraph-1.pdf View Download

    Gregg, Check the Tiles For Sale and Tiles Wanted bulletin boards. You can link to those boards above left. And if you want to send me a picture, don't send a PDF. I need a web-friendly inline image format, like JPG or GIF or PNG.
    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
    January 26, 2015


    Do I have to have a natural tile? Is an all-jokers set legal? 

    >From: Randy M
    >Sent: Monday, January 26, 2015 8:30 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can you make a pung, kong or quint using all jokers without using even one natural tile as part of the grouping?

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

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 26, 2015


    Does the jokerless bonus apply in the singles & pairs group?

    >From: Linda F
    >Sent: Sunday, January 25, 2015 4:12 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: when playing the hands on the card that are jokerless does player get paid double if someone throws the mah Jong tile? Player said since the hand is joker less she gets paid double. I say no the number on the card is already doubled to reflect it being joker less.

    Linda,
    Please tell your friend to read the back of the card. Please always read the card before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 25, 2015


    Please explain 1941 scoring

    >From: Sandra H
    >Sent: Saturday, January 24, 2015 10:21 AM
    >Subject: vintage game scoring
    >Hi Tom, I have several vintage cards that came in a set and don't know what the points and scoring are. I've attached a photo. Do you know what the far right column is? Some friends and I thought it might be fun to play.
    >Thanks,
    >Sandy H


    Click the image to see it full size, right-click to download

    Hi, Sandy.
    You're making me work very hard. First, you sent me a PDF, not a normal image file, so I had to convert it. Secondly, you only photographed the card front, not the card back. I don't have a 1941 card, but I do have a 1941-42 card, and here is what it says on the back:


    Click the image to see it full size, right-click to download

    Although I don't have a copy of the full 1941 card from the NMJL, I do have a full 1941 card from Bernstein's Furs. It contains some extra information:


    Click the image to see it full size, right-click to download

    I didn't think those give enough information to answer your question, so I opened the 1938 rulebook, "Maajh," by Viola Cecil (a founder of the League). I sure hope these passages will help you, because this was a lot of work!


    Click the image to see it full size, right-click to download


    Click the image to see it full size, right-click to download

       
    Click an image to see it full size, right-click to download

    I hope those help you with your question. Oh, by the way - I think it says in there somewhere, but in case you missed it: flowers are wild. And I think the League even permitted their use in singles and pairs back then. There were no jokers.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 24, 2015


    Is this a technicality that voids another rule?

    >From: letstawk
    >Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2015 1:21 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: A player has a legal exposure with a joker used. Then later in the game, she calls a tile and exposes an error and goes dead. Now the dead exposures go back in the rack and the legal exposure with the joker remains. What if someone else is dead based on the tiles that went back in the rack? You can't call them dead because the tile is not visible, but you remember the tiles. For example, the dead tiles included 3 souths. Now someone has 4 norths exposed and calls for an east or west and exposes 4 of them. Now you know the 3 souths are unavailable, so she can't make the pair, but you can't call her dead. What happens? A dead hand can keep playing because of a technicality? How can the NMJL make a rule that disadvantages another legal rule? Please help. Thank you. Yvonne Scott PS I called the NMJL and they didn't know. They said it was a good question.

    Hi Yvonne,
    I agree that it's a good question, but you should not have asked the League by telephone. You get a better answer (an official rule) if you send the question in writing.
    I know what the logical and consistent answer is. But I am not the League. So take my reply with a grain of salt.
    The dead player had previously exposed all her tiles, and as you say, at least one of you can remember what was seen in her tiles before she was forced (by the rules) to put them back on the rack. Those tiles are public information, even if they are no longer visible. Therefore, it is logical and consistent with the rules that whatever tiles had previously been exposed may be talked about and remembered and used as evidence against another player. As long as the other two live players can remember what had been exposed, you can rightly call that second player dead... in my opinion.
    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
    January 22, 2015


    The easiest hands, part 2

    >From: Nathan T
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2015 11:48 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: Easy Hands
    >Tom,
    >Just to put things in a little better perspective for you and this note doesn't need to responded to on your website. You mentioned my "circle of players." This is really more than just a small close knit group. Between the 3 groups I play with, there are over 50 players involved. Some are fairly new players, others teach Mah Jongg classes but the majority have been playing for many years as we are all senior citizens.
    >I can't wait for the new card so I can begin to start keeping statistics from the beginning of a card cycle. I will let you know when I find something interesting.
    >Thanks for your wonderful weekly column,
    >Nathan T


    The easiest hands (2014 NMJL card)

    >From: Nathan T
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2015 8:24 AM
    >Subject: Easy Hands
    >Tom,
    >I thought earlier this year you said Consecutive #2 was the easiest hand on the card and this spurred me to write the following email to you.
    >I have been playing Mah Jongg for almost 3 years now (I am 73) and for the first time I set for myself the challenge of making all the hands on the card. When I accomplished that in the fall, I eventually decided it would be fun to begin to gather statistics on the frequency of the different Mah Jonggs that I and my opponents are making.
    >For the past almost 3 months, I have recorded every Mah Jongg and wall game and have found a very interesting pattern. Of the 327 games I have played, there were 81 wall games, 71 Mah Jonggs by me and 175 Mah Jongg by my opponents. The interesting statistic is that of the 175 Mah Jongg made by my opponents, a whopping 55% have been made on only 3 hands, Consecutive #5 - 27%, Consecutive #1 - 19%, and Like Numbers - 9%. Now when there is an exposure, my first thought is whether the exposure could possibly be one of these 3 hands. I would love to play against folks where these 3 hands (which I refer to as beginner hands) could not be used. Most of the folks I play with have decades of experience.
    >For me, I have made Mah Jongg 29% on these 3 hands. I have been trying to encourage others to be more daring and not keeping trying to make the same hands over and over again. By the way, I usually play 3 times a week (not counting playing online against the computer almost every day against the test version of the 2015 National Mah Jongg League game) and only play for money 1 of the 3 days. Twice are at the senior center where you can't play for money.
    >I will start the 2015 card year by keeping track, once again, of each Mah Jongg made.
    >Nathan T

    Nathan, my hat's off to you. Very interesting.
    I did indeed say (many times over the years) that Consec. #2 is "the most powerful hand on the card" - and that is the case every year. "Powerful" includes "easy," but it's certainly possible that that hand isn't necessarily the "easiest."
    The numbers you cite reveal a flaw with something else I often say: that if skill is equal between the 4 players, that one player will win 25% of the time. You pointed out that wall games put the lie to that statistic. Now I'll always say that one player will win 20% of the time instead.
    The statistics you collected (the hands you identified as most made) apply to your circle of players only. Because player habits differ widely, reliable statistics would need to be gathered also from other groups. You yourself said you "have been trying to encourage others to be more daring and not keeping trying to make the same hands over and over again." So the hands you identified are the hands most made by your circle of players.
    You said that you "would love to play against folks where these 3 hands (which I refer to as beginner hands) could not be used." That sounds exactly like what happened in the 1920s, when experienced players tried to up the ante by permitting only "cleared hands" or "one-double" scores. And what many Yahoo players do in Hong Kong games, requiring a "three fan minimum." These sorts of restrictions led to what I call "the mah-jongg wars," leading to the fall of mah-jongg's popularity in the mid-1920s. Besides, if you want to continue collecting reliable statistics, then I think you shouldn't introduce tests that skew the results.
    It would be interesting to see if hands are played all across a new card but then narrow down to a small subset of hands as the card gets older. Or perhaps the reverse. But like I said, reliable statistics would need a very large sampling base.
    Thanks for the very interesting email. Food for thought. Keep up the good work!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 20, 2015


    Can I redeem more than one joker in a turn? 

    >From: "cherylbronx
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2015 4:22 AM
    >Subject: MJ ?
    >Can a player in one turn after picking a tile switch more than one tile for a joker from an exposed opponents' rack?
    >Thanks Cheryl from the Bronx

    Hi, Cheryl from the Bronx.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-N. 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 from Los Angeles
    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.
    January 20, 2015


    Hands up! This is a Dragonet!

    >From: "Pipm
    >Sent: Monday, January 19, 2015 3:22 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Dragonet (number 8 in Strauser). Three pairs of one suit plus any honor paired, and 6 odd honors. No terminals may be used.
    >Can the pair of Honors in this hand be the same as one of the 6 odd honors or does the pair of honors have to be one of the other winds or dragons (i.e. not included in the 6 odd honors)?
    >Thank you for your help
    >Philippa M

    Hi, Philippa.
    "Any honor paired" means there has to be a pair of any honor tile. And "6 odd honors" means "6 single honor tiles" - "odd" in this syntax means "unpaired."

    If you make three pairs plus 6 single tiles, that's 12 tiles, and all that leaves you (given that a mah-jongg hand is 14 tiles) is room for 2 more tiles - the honor pair.
    If you made three pairs, plus 4 single honors, plus an honor pair (6 honors including an honor pair), that leaves you needing 2 more tiles - what would those 2 tiles be?

    The description of Dragonet mentions every tile you need. If your description was used, then that leaves a 2-tile hole. Besides, the words "any honor paired, and 6 odd honors" contains the word "and." Clearly, the 6 honors are not meant to include any pairs. There are exactly 7 different honors in a mah-jongg set; you are supposed to use them all (one of the seven must be paired). When I worked on that book (Mah Jong, Anyone? by Strauser & Evans), I didn't think that that wording (written by the original authors) would be confusing, so I didn't change it. Guess I could have.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 19, 2015


    Couple frequently asked questions 4 U

    >From: Ione and John
    >Sent: Monday, January 19, 2015 3:57 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jong questions
    >Please answer the following questions if you can:
    >1. When you are playing 3 handed, is the new rule that you don't do the Charleston?
    >2. A player discards a tile, the player that is second right, calls for the tile "Take". The tile is not taken from the table, but she exposes on her tray the tiles, and then as she goes to pick up the discarded tile that she called for, the player in the position next to the one that discarded, says "TAKE".
    >Is the first person to the right entitled to it, or the person who already put her tiles on the tray, but still had not picked up the discarded tile.
    >Thanks so much if you can answer these questions.
    >Ione

    Hi, Ione.
    What do you mean, "new rule"? Read page 23 of the official rulebook. If you don't have a rulebook (and why doesn't everyone?), read Frequently Asked Question 13-A. You can link to the FAQs above left. Sure is something how many people have asked me about 3-player mah-jongg lately!
    Read Frequently Asked Question 19-H. Look for the part that says "Q: It's not a race, you say? So you're saying I can take my time?" And see the quote from the 2007 NMJL newsletter.
    Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about mah-jongg are found in the FAQs. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    By the way, the word is "rack," not "tray." See FAQ 7D.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 19, 2015


    Where in China, part 2

    >From: David M
    >Sent: Monday, January 19, 2015 12:39 PM
    >Subject: Re: Fwd: Mah-Jongg Set Appraisal
    >I appreciate your time and assistance. At this time, it looks my mother (who loves to play) is getting a unique birthday gift!


    Where in China did it come from?

    >From: David M
    >Sent: Monday, January 19, 2015 11:14 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: Mah-Jongg Set Appraisal
    >Hello Tom.
    >I recently was given an old-looking Mah-Jongg set from a friend who says that it was brought back from China by her great or great great grandfather when he was a Norwegian Sea Captain. After reading your site, suggestions and with knowing nothing about the game, I was mildly overwhelmed. I tried to follow your check list and provide reasonable photos in hopes that you can give me a more specific idea of what this set might be valued at if I wanted to sell it. Are you able to tell me where in China it came from (if it did indeed come from China). I am seeking a free-appraisal and understand that you will be posting this on your board.
    >Thank you for your time.
    >David M.

    Hi, David. You asked:

    I tried to follow your check list and provide reasonable photos
    Your photos are reasonable - a little small (and I shrunk them further to post here), but I got the info I needed to get from photos. However, you didn't tell me the things I needed to know (and that the FAQ 7H checklist asked for). So I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed.

    what this set might be valued at
    Value is a combination of completeness, condition, and attractiveness. You did not tell me everything my FAQ 7H checklist asked for. I can see that several of your tiles are smudged badly. I cannot tell anything else about condition. I can see that all your tiles are present, but I do not know if all your other pieces are present, since you did not provide counts. FAQs 7B, 7C, 7D, 7E, and 7H are intended to be informative rather than overwhelming, but perhaps my intent has been subjugated by my additional intent to give complete information. Sorry you were so overwhelmed that you couldn't give me complete information.

    See also column 610 (June 22, 2014) for more information about these 1920s Chinese sets, what's in them and what they're worth. Your set's tiles are in bad condition, apparently, but your box is exquisitely decorated with a lot of mother-of-pearl inlays. So, bad and good together. It also doesn't have any paper materials, apparently. It seems to be missing one wind disc. It might be worth a bit more than $100 because of the nice box, but I really can't say for sure.

    where in China it came from (if it did indeed come from China)
    It came from China. Although I know that some clues (such as which bird is seen on the 1B tile) can indicate region, I have not studied up on that enough to answer that question myself. Check the links in column 610.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 19 (MLK Day), 2015


    "Butt when are you going to ram through the yearly hand," said Tom sheepishly

    >From: Connie W
    >Sent: Sunday, January 18, 2015 11:47 AM
    >Subject: Yearly Hand
    >Hi, Tom. Our group looks forward to your creation of the Yearly Hand for MCR (Chinese Official--not American). Is it the Year of the Goat? Thanks, Connie

    Hi, Connie. I'm not sure if you're saying you already saw column #627 but didn't like the hand because it's too "American," or if you simply haven't taken the wool from over your eyes and looked at the January 4 column yet at all.
    If the former, well, it's a "special" hand, so it just requires that you treat this one hand differently from the way you play every other hand when you're playing MCR. There's really no reason why MCR players couldn't give a special hand a little special treatment. You can get to the column by clicking the purple banner atop this page, if you simply hadn't yet seen the column. I remembered that someone had said before that she didn't want to wait until February for the annual hand, so I did it as the first column of the year this time.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 2, 2015


    When can I redeem a joker, part 2 - u didn't give me a answer!

    >From: Margie I
    >Sent: Sunday, January 18, 2015 10:21 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I didn't get a answer yes r no !! My turn I pick and discard and tried to claim a Joker all
    >At one time . I was told I have to claim the Joker before I discard . Next person in line didn't
    >Pick r discard before I tried to claim the Joker . I just want to no if this is a rule r note .
    >Thanks
    >Sent from my iPad

    i gave u ur answer, i sed "Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-M." tldr: The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. Pls bookmark FAQ 19, and please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles b with u.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 18, 2015


    When can I redeem a joker?

    >From: Margie I
    >Sent: Saturday, January 17, 2015 3:25 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >It's my turn I draw then I discard a N then I what to claim a joker all in one transition.
    >They said I have to claim the joker before I discard my N . Next in turn didn't draw r
    >Discard . It was all done in one transition . I said ok !! But would like if this is a rule
    >Thank you !!
    >Sent from my

    Hello, Margie. You wrote:

    I draw then I discard a N then I what to claim a joker all in one transition.
    >They said I have to claim the joker before I discard my N .
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-M. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.

    Next in turn didn't draw r
    >Discard . It was all done in one transition .
    You lost me.

    But would like if this is a rule
    >Thank you !!
    I don't make the rules. I can't change the rule for you. The National Mah Jongg League makes the rules. Their address is on the card.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 18, 2015


    What if there's no parenthetical?

    >From: Jeanette R
    >Sent: Saturday, January 17, 2015 8:35 AM
    >Subject: 2014 Card
    >Dear Tom:
    >On the very first one on the card --- NNNN EW SSSS 2014 --- Can you substitute, for instance, EEEE NS WWWW 2014 – as you can see, I am a beginner but addicted already.
    > Thanks for your help! Jeanette

    You mean, like, "there's no parenthetical saying 'these winds only.'" So, maybe WWWW ES NNNN 2014? In fact, it doesn't say "winds only" in parentheses, so maybe EEEE RW NNNN 2014? It doesn't say "2014 only." How about GGGG ER SSSS 3256? It also doesn't say "kong, two singles, kong, four singles" in parentheses, so how about NN EWS 22 00 11 444?
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-AJ. You can link to the FAQs above left. Please bookmark FAQ 19, and please always check the FAQs before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 17, 2015


    What if two players go dead in a three-player game?

    >From: "Raf...
    >Sent: Friday, January 16, 2015 6:20 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When there are only three players and one player calls Mahj in error and one other player then exposes her tiles, but the third player does not expose her tiles, does the player who called Mahj incorrectly have to pay the third player who did not expose her tiles double the value of the hand?
    >According to the card, when there are four players and one calls Mahj in error and two of the players expose their hands, the player who called Mahj in error has to pay the player who didn't expose her hand double the value of the hand.
    > Ruth F

    Ruth, please read Frequently Asked Question 19-CC. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 16, 2015


    How about they just give me a reprimand instead?

    >From: Lourdes G
    >Sent: Friday, January 16, 2015 5:12 AM
    >Subject: Didn't pick first
    >Last Tuesday I was playing MJ with a table of four players.
    >It was my turn. Not realizing, I exchanged a tile for an exposed joker, first. Then, I realized that I hadn’t picked from the wall, I then picked from the wall. Is there a written penalty for this action? Am I dead or should just a repremand suffice. The hostess said let her pick; however, two other players objected and said I should be called dead. Who is right?
    >Thanks for your help.

    Hi Lourdes,
    You know that redeeming out of turn (or should I say out of order) is an illegal move. Your question is whether death is really the penalty. See FAQ 19-AA. But the hostess sets the rules - see FAQ 14. You can link to the Frequently Asked Questions above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 16, 2015


    Is it legal to discard, part 2

    >From: Alice H
    >Sent: Thursday, January 15, 2015 5:54 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I will re-phrase the question from yesterday. Player A is apparently working for a joker free hand. She has not exposed any part of her hand. She has a kong of 3 bams plus 1 joker. Player B throws the fourth bam she needs. She asked if it was legal to call, then replace the joker with the 4th bam, then discard the joker? Of course she then had to expose the 4 bams. Thanks again!!! Happy tiles to you!!!

    Hi, Alice.You wrote:
    She has not exposed any part of her hand. She has a kong of 3 bams plus 1 joker. ... She asked if it was legal to call, then replace the joker with the 4th bam
    What? That doesn't make any sense. She has not exposed the kong, you say. So "replacing" the joker makes no sense whatsoever! Even if she had pre-assigned the joker (deciding in her mind that it was a bam - you didn't say what number bam it was), that does NOT mean that that joker IS a bam (of whatever number she was konging). That concealed joker is a "free agent," to be used anywhere in the hand, or not in the hand at all! She is free to do whatever she wants with that joker.
    This illustrates perfectly one of the reasons why I always tell my students, "do not pre-assign your jokers." In your mind, that joker is now set in stone - but in reality, it's not. Pre-assigning messes up your thinking.
    OF COURSE it's perfectly legal to expose the kong of bams. And of course it's perfectly legal to discard a joker.
    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
    1/15/15


    Is this self-pick, part 3

    >From: Gladys at Mah Jongg.org>
    >To: 'steve & allison w
    >Cc: tom@sloperama
    >Sent: Thursday, January 15, 2015 7:55 AM
    >Subject: Response: Self picked or not?
    >Hello Allison,
    >Situation 1.
    >Claiming the 5 bam gave "player a" her 14th tile for mah jongg.
    > Simply put, all she did was move around her own tiles on her own rack. In a tournament, she would not have received the additional ten (10) points for a self-picked Mah Jongg.
    >Strategy: A player has a "set hand" (waiting for a final tile for mahj).
    > That player also has a tile that can be exchanged for a Joker from an opponent’s exposure…but she does not need that Joker to claim a tile. She has probably also determined that she has the only remaining tile to claim that Joker; so she is comfortable enough not to exchange it.
    > Her strategy is to hope to pick her own mahj tile from the wall and then make the joker exchange;
    >Or to claim a discarded tile for an exposure….and then she will make the joker exchange from another player’s exposure….therein giving her the 14th tile for a self-picked mah jongg.
    >I talked directly with Ruth Unger, the President of the NMJL, who agrees it is NOT a self picked Mah Jongg.
    >We discussed the logic that reflects the fact that the "claiming of that tile gave the player her 14th tile for Mahj."
    >There was no exchange made…she merely rearranged her own tiles.
    >NMJL ruling is that if you claim a discard and make your exposure….
    >…..then you exchange for a Joker from another player’s exposure, and that Joker gives you Mah Jongg….…then that is a self –picked mahj.
    >Most important to remember is that when you already have your 14th tile in your hand – you already have Mah Jongg.
    >When you only have 13 tiles….then the exchange for another player’s tile will give you your 14th tile for mahj.
    >Hope this helps to clarify.
    >Gladys Grad
    >Mah Jongg Tournaments And Cruises
    >5750 Carriage Drive
    >Sarasota, FL 34243
    >941-351-9420
    >http://www.mahjonggmadness.com
    >Visit our website for information on Tournament Rules, Tournaments and Cruises


    Is this self-pick, part 2

    >From: steve & allison w
    >To: "tom@sloperama; "gladys@mahjongg
    >Sent: Thursday, January 15, 2015 6:01 AM
    >Subject: Self picked or not?
    >Gladys and Tom,
    >Situation 1
    >Player calls for 5 Bam, and displays the called 5 Bam with another 5 Bam and a Joker. She then trades a third 5 Bam which she already had in her hand for the Joker. She then calls Mahj and displays her complete hand. This is NOT self-picked, as she simply rearranged the tiles in her hand. (and how many of us would not just have called the initial 5 Bam for Mahj in the first place I wonder????)
    >Situation 2
    >Player calls for 5 Bam, and displays it plus 2 other 5 Bams. Then she takes a tile from her hand and trades it for a Joker on someone else's rack. She then calls Mahj and displays her hand. This IS considered a self-picked hand and she should be paid double.
    >There have been a lot of somewhat confusing email threads going around, so I'm trying to clarify. Do you agree with my scenarios as I've described them?
    >Allison

    Hi Allison,
    In situation 1, you just recapped the discussion I had with the Nachenbergs, as resolved by Gladys' call to Ruth Unger. You described the scenario just fine up to the parenthetical, which I am not certain I fully understand (I'm saying I didn't quite follow what you were "wondering" in parentheses).
    In situation 2, you just recapped the question you asked me yesterday, and which I answered yesterday.
    I think "Do you agree with my scenarios" is the wrong question. You just wrote two recaps, of scenarios that had already been resolved. (What is there to agree or disagree with?)
    There is no controversy with your situation 2. That's the normal joker-redemption self-pick scenario.
    In situation 1, however, there was a controversy because a player tried to exploit a loophole, as discussed in the three discussions of Sunday the 11th and Wednesday the 14th ("Is this legally 'self-pick'"). The player made an exposure, then redeemed a tile from the exposure she'd just made, both in the same turn, meaning she already had all the tiles she needed except the 5B.
    The issue is not that she redeemed her own joker. Anyone is allowed to redeem her own joker. The issue is that she exposed the joker and then said she was redeeming it, both in the same turn - that's trying to pull a fast one (taking advantage of an apparent loophole). The official ruling (official though not in writing) is that that constituted rearranging her tiles.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    1/15/15


    Is it legal to discard a joker?

    >From: Alice H
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 6:11 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Player A is trying for a hand with no jokers. She has a kong of 3 plus 1 joker. The next player throws the 4th tile she needs for a pure kong. Can she call for that tile, then discard the joker? This still did not give her mah jongg. Thanks for your help. Love the Game!!

    Hi, Alice.
    You're asking if it's legal to discard a joker? Nobody ever asked me this question before on the bulletin board (or, at least, it hasn't been asked often enough to become an FAQ). Maybe if you read "Frequently Asked Question" 19-G, you might deduce your answer. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    NOTE: if you don't know the answer to your question after reading FAQ 19-G, then perhaps I misunderstood what you're asking. If that's the case, you can try again, wording the question differently so that I understand it better.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 14, 2015


    Is this self-pick (do we all have to pay double)?

    >From: steve & allison w
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 4:08 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Player discards a 5 Bam. Another player calls the 5 Bam and displays her collection of 5 Bams on her rack. Then she takes a tile from her hand and exchanges it for a Joker on another player's rack. Then she calls Mah Jongg. Is this considered a self-picked Mah jongg?

    Hi, Steve and Allison. Yes. The tile that gave her mah-jongg was the joker, which she "bought" with a tile that was already in her hand. So it's self-pick. Read "Frequently Asked Question" 19-AN. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 14, 2015


    Is this legally "self-pick," part 3

    >From: Gladys at Mah Jongg.org>
    >To: [list deleted]
    >Cc: [list deleted]
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 2:19 PM
    >Subject: MORE: : need your opinion on a mahj ruling IS IT A SELF-PICKED MAHJ?
    >. . . . .and I just talked directly with Ruth Unger, the President of the NMJL, who agrees it is NOT a self picked Mah Jongg.
    >We discussed the logic that reflects the fact that the "claiming of that tile gave the player her 14th tile for Mahj."
    >There was no exchange made…she merely rearranged her own tiles.
    >Gladys Grad
    >Mah Jongg Tournaments And Cruises
    >5750 Carriage Drive
    >Sarasota, FL 34243
    >941-351-9420
    >http://www.mahjonggmadness.com
    >Visit our website for information on Tournament Rules, Tournaments and Cruises

    Quote: "There was no exchange made…she merely rearranged her own tiles." - That says it much better than I did below, when I said "When you expose a joker and then 'redeem' it yourself, all in the same turn, you're basically just changing the exposure" and "It's win by discard, not self-pick, since the thing the hand needed to be complete was the tile that was discarded." Still would be nice to have it in writing from the League.
    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
    January 14, 2015


    Did I need to pick before?

    >From: sue K
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 2:14 PM
    >Subject: mahjongg question
    >Hi Tom. Here's the question. I throw a flower. The person to my left calls it and puts out her flowers with a joker. Now it's my turn. I replace the joker with a flower. That person who called the flower threw a green. I need the green to make mah jonggg. Did I need to pick before I replaced if the person threw the mah jongg tile I needed as a discard? Sorry for the long-winded question, but I wanted to be clear on order of picking and calling. Thank you for answering me.

    Hi, Sue. You think that was long-winded?? I think it was too brief (it left out important stuff). Let's try to figure out the chronology (I've filled in the missing stuff in italics):

    I throw a flower.
    The person to my left calls it and puts out her flowers with a joker and discards.
    Now it's my turn. I pick, then replace the joker with a flower, and discard.
    Other people take turns, and then...
    That person who called the flower picked something and then threw a green.
    I need the green to make mah jonggg.

    If this is what you were describing, then of course the answer is "just say mah-jongg." But then you asked:

    Did I need to pick before I replaced
    Yes. You always have to have 14 tiles in hand before you can redeem a joker. Read "Frequently Asked Question" 19-M. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 14, 2015


    Is this legally "self-pick," part 2

    >From: Judi Nachenberg
    >To: [cc list deleted]
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 12:50 PM
    >Subject: Re: RESPONSE: need your opinion on a mahj ruling IS IT A SELF-PICKED MAHJ?
    >From: Bill Nachenberg
    >Hi All,
    >I just talked with a very nice lady named Jean at the NMJL and inquired about the ruling. She said I am a very bad boy and shouldn't
    >do it and she polled the ladies in the office, she said I opened a Pandora's Box, but their final ruling was "The move is legal and it is a self pick" only because there is NO RULING against it, but I should not do it. When we inquired about the self pick in a home game, she said we would have to make a table rule either for or against it.
    >Bill Nachenberg

    Bill, you are a very bad boy for not getting the rule in writing. In my opinion, the League has basically punted (per onlineslangdictionary: "to delay solving a problem ... until later"). A rule needs to be consistent with other rules, and I believe this is inconsistent with the rule that an exposure may be changed prior to discarding. When you expose a joker and then "redeem" it yourself, all in the same turn, you're basically just changing the exposure, which is something you're expressly permitted to do -- so if you're just changing an exposure, you aren't "redeeming the joker." This amounts to a loophole in the rules -- "Here's my joker, I redeem my own joker, so it's self-pick and everybody pays me double."
    I believe you that the League told you this, but since they did not put it in writing I'm not honoring it. I think this ruling is bad, and I hope the League issues a written rule.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 14, 2015


    What do you do, part 4 (3-player walls) 

    >From: Sara J. O
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 12:29 PM
    >Subject: Maj Jongg for 3 players
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When playing with 3 players, do the walls come out as for 4 players- that is from the left of the dealer following around to the last player?
    >Also what do you feel is the best way for 3 to even play the game- my friends insist on setting up a wall for the dummy with 6 layers of 3 tiles extending outward from which to Charleston. Make any sense???
    >Again thank you for all your help in the past.
    >I love, love, love the game.
    >Sara
    >sjo1944

    Hi, Sara. You asked:

    When playing with 3 players, do the walls come out as for 4 players- that is from the left of the dealer following around to the last player?
    Yes. Tile removal does not reverse direction (coming from the wall counter-clockwise) just because there are three players instead of four. "Walls come out" the same way, regardless of player number.

    my friends insist on setting up a wall for the dummy
    There are always supposed to be four walls, unless you use a special triangular table. Read "Frequently Asked Question" 13-A (assuming you play American-style mah-jongg). You can link to the FAQs above left.

    with 6 layers of 3 tiles extending outward from which to Charleston.
    Ah, Charleston. So you DO play American mah-jongg. Read FAQ 13-A. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    Make any sense???
    I believe I understood what you were saying.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 14, 2015


    It's so hard to scroll down through all the Q&As!

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 8:06 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: You recommended checking out an email from andi c on 9/19/14 concerning keeping hands off another player’s rack. Is there an easier way to get to it rather than scrolling down through all the other emails?
    You have helped me learn the correct way to play hands on the NMJL card better during the past several years and I still refer to your great book "The Red Dragon and The West Wind". In fact I have earned the title "MJ Police" in one of my MJ groups but now most of the players also know the "rules" and some ladies have bought your book. Thanks for your continuing help which is greatly appreciated. Also enjoy seeing all your pictures of tournaments that you have played in. Lynn P.

    Hi, Lynn. So, you're saying scrolling is difficult? Maybe you're scrolling the hard way rather than the easy way - or maybe you are scrolling when you could simply use the Find function.

    One way to scroll down is to use the scroll wheel on your mouse. That would be laborious indeed! Not recommended.

    Another way to scroll down is to drag the "scroll thumb" down the scroll bar on the right side of the browser window. Much faster - you can just go, say, halfway down, then check to see what date you're looking at (and you'll know if you need to go farther down or back up a bit).

    Another way to scroll down is to use the Page Down key on your keyboard. Faster than the scroll wheel, but not as fast as the scroll bar.

    But why scroll at all, when you can simply hit Control-F and type "andi c" (see, I gave the information about the poster's name and the date, in the format it's given on the post, so you can search it easily). That way, you'd jump right straight to it.

    All those methods won't work for much longer, however - the board is getting too big, and soon I'll need to break the board in two, relegating older posts to an archived page. Then you'd need to scroll all the way down to the bottom (recommended way is to use the scroll bar and the scroll thumb), and click where it says "CLICK HERE to go back in time and read older Mah-Jongg Q&A postings!" And then scroll down to September 19.

    So, I don't accept blame for it being difficult to scroll down to old Q&As - there are several ways you can do it, some of them very easy indeed. Oh, and thanks for the nice things you said!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 13, 2015


    Is this legally "self-pick"?

    >From: "judi@mahjonggfunla
    >Sent: Sunday, January 11, 2015 8:11 PM
    >Subject: mah jongg question
    >Hi Tom,
    >We had a question come up at a mah jongg tournament today. Here is what happened.
    >A lady call a 5 bam. She put up two 5 bams and a joker. She then replaced the joker with a 5 bam that was in her rack and said mah jongg. Bill feels that this is a legal move and that it is a self picked mah jongg. I think that if she realized she had mah jongg with the exchange of the joker that the lady who threw the tile gave her mah jongg and that it was not self-picked because she could have said mah jongg when the 5 bam came out.
    >Bill & Judi Nachenberg
    >Mah Jongg Fun L.A.

    Hi Judi,
    I think the written rule that goes against this (redemption of one's own exposure, made in the same turn, and calling it self-pick) is the rule that an exposure may be changed prior to discarding. The pung with the joker can be simply changed prior to discarding (changed by not using the joker in it), but discarding is not necessary since mah-jongg can be claimed.
    It's win by discard, not self-pick, since the thing the hand needed to be complete was the tile that was discarded.
    Tom
    May the tiles be with you.
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    1/11/2015


    Tiles for vision-impaired, part 2

    >From: Gail A
    >Sent: Sunday, January 11, 2015 8:51 PM
    >Subject: Re: Sight for Sore Mah Eyes
    >HI Tom,
    >Thank you for your care and attention to my impromptu "dissertation." You handled it perfectly.
    >RE: You raised a good point about not inadvertently promoting WTWB, especially since they are a sponsor. Of course, I didn't know they were a sponsor. Do you know Faye Scher? I think she now does a lot of Mah jong cruises. Since WTWB was the only website that had these tiles, or even cared, I didn't include a simple disclaimer to check other venues. Of course, I should have done so.
    >But, perhaps you could put in a disclaimer that perhaps other venues now carry these tiles, or others like them. And, all mah jong websites should be checked for stock and price. Players can use this WTWB set as a graphic guide as to what to look for and to not settle for vision-compromised tiles. If the numeral does not cover 1/2 the tile face, it might well not be the tile for you.
    >Perhaps, if enough of your readers ask other sites about this set, other venues will wake up that they can, and should, cater to vision impaired players. Right now, they plead ignorance that there is no need or no available tiles.
    >Per your question about revising your information about vision impaired tiles; yes, I absolutely think you should. Frankly, when I read your website today, and saw your information, it looked too general, too old and too basic, to let stand. It prompted me to write you to bring you up to date.
    >What made me most angry was your well-intentioned, but uninformed referral, to the "easy reader set". That's when I started to peck at my keyboard.
    >Long as I'm giving my opinion and as long as you brought it up, yes, I'd like to see that re-written so that novices in buying sets for problem vision look for the right features.
    >[Deleted for brevity]
    >Since you are in the LA area, do you teach, lead tournaments, cruises in mah jong? Hope to one day meet you.
    >Regards,
    >Gail

    Gail, I'll take your suggestions under advisement. And yes, I teach in the L.A. area, but do not organize or run tournaments. I occasionally go to local tournaments. I did once go on a mah-jongg cruise out of Florida, fifteen years ago. Always glad to meet online friends in person. I'm appending your entire email (unedited) to FAQ 7S.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    1/11/2015


    Tiles for vision-impaired players

    [This email has been edited for brevity]
    >From: Gail A
    >Sent: Sunday, January 11, 2015 2:06 PM
    >Subject: Sight for Sore Mah Eyes
    >HI Tom,
    >I was just introduced to your website by a mah jong Club Mate and I couldn't wait to email you. I think your website is beyond wonderful and much needed.
    >I happen to be vision impaired, so I flew to your subject about tiles and sets for those with vision problems. And, that's why I'm writing you.
    >Over the years, as my eyesight has diminished, I have struggled with seeing and buying tiles that I can easily see. One of the hardest things for me was to note the exposed tiles on the racks of other players. I was always asking: "What is that exposure?" Are those 7's? 8's? Is there a joker there?" Well, my Club was always extraordinarily kind and patient, but it does get old, even to me, after the 1st or 400th time.
    >Over the years, I have worked with Faye Scher, former owner of "Where the Winds Blow." No other company, including Yellow Imports, Mah Jong Maven, etc. was responsive to anything other than: "Sorry;" if I even got that much from them. However, Faye shared my frustration and interest about obtaining large numeral sets for vision impaired players. But, as Faye explained, even with all of her importing and buying power, most companies mistakenly fail to believe there is a market for such sets. However, since the vast majority of players are older, (and aging as we speak) there is a critical need for such tiles/sets for those afflicted with a variety of vision problems; cataracts being the least of them.
    >I am chagrined and angry that the National League has turned a blind eye, pun/insult intended, to this problem. If they supported this need, world wide suppliers would heed. But, National could care less. I have contacted them and got a curt referral to the sets they sell. Such sets are worthless to the vast majority of players who are vision impaired due to a variety of eye disease.
    >So, over the years, Faye and I developed an on-going relationship where she specifically asked me what would help; what I needed. She was the only vendor to do that. She would then work with me to obtain sets that would allow me, and countless others, to continue to play mah jong to our hearts, and wallet's, content.
    >Just before Faye sold "Where the Winds Blow," she alerted me to what turned out to be my mah jong salvation. I do not know the manufacturer but it is so wonderful that I bought two sets of tiles; one to have and one to spare.
    >When I emailed Faye with my gratitude, she replied:
    >"Glad you like the new large #'s.
    >Everyone has had RAVES about them!
    >Regards,
    >Faye"
    >So, I am hardly the only one to love these tiles. And, I modestly like to feel that I am resonsible for Faye searching for such tiles. She had enormous empathy and it certainly paid off.
    >The result? I now have years added to my mah jong playing future. My Mah Club has been extraordinarily patient and accommodating with all my sets and needs. ... In fact, now, when one of them subs with a "normal" set, they find those hard to see. At one of my two Clubs, I have had numerous players stop by and ask where they can get a set and I always tell them. But, I am cautious to warn then to avoid just any set that is marked, "easy reader, extra large" because I have a trunk full of those sets. They are not easy to read. And, it is not the size of the tile that matters. If you have vision problems you need a visual solution. And,this is it.
    >The trouble being, they are hard to come by so I encourage your followers to stock up.
    >Actually, the other reason I went into so much detail is that I wanted to alert you that your website suggests tiles that are almost "mah candy solutions". Looking to buy an "easy reader" set is a waste of money and someone's hope since the numbers are not proportionally large, or larger enough, to be helpful.
    >At the end, please scroll down to see a pasted image of the tiles, if it survives cyberspace. The key is to examine the tile face. It is a very white surface, of some sort of plastic. You will see that the wind or number easily covers half the tile. A red 7, is a crac. The dragons have the word of their color printed out on them.
    >Thank you for the great job you do. And, I know that putting the word out on these tiles will be added help for vision impaired players everywhere.By the way, I make nothing from WTWB. I just want to spread the good word.
    >Regards,
    >Gail A
    >Los Angeles, CA
    >http://wherethewindsblow.com/images/
    >games/mah_jongg_where_the_winds_blow_tile_largnumbers.png

    Hi, Gail.
    I gather that you're saying I should rewrite FAQ 7S and just tell everybody to get the large numbers set from WhereTheWindsBlow. Somebody else (Jody B) also emailed me about that set, just last October 23. In fact, if you scroll down, you might be able to see that email - if you get to the bottom of the board before you get back as far as October, just click the link to go farther back in time. I appended that October email to the bottom of FAQ 7S, and I'm appending yours there too. And based on what you wrote, I've written a new intro to FAQ 7S. One problem for me is that if I endorse WTWB, who is a sponsor of my site, that it could raise issues of trust with my readers, and might run afoul of FTC rules, and could offput other potential sponsors. I might be worrying too much, but better safe than sorry. By the way, I had to edit your email for brevity. Thanks for seconding Jody's recommendation.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    1/11/2015


    Is this a rule, part 2 (putting a tile on another player's rack)

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Friday, January 9, 2015 7:26 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >For Louise: I think the practice of another player placing a called tile unto the caller's rack can cause problems. The caller has the right to change her mind and not take the tile as long as she has not racked the called tile or tiles from her hand. By placing the tile on someone else's rack, the other player now can cause disharmony should the caller decide not to take it. After all, SHE did not place it there, but it is on her rack. If a third player did not see that move, disharmony can arise.
    >I play with two groups, one group has a habit that I think is great for making playing easier. When someone wants a tile but says "wait", the discarded places the tile upright on end. If the caller decides to take it, it is easily visible. If they decide not to take it the discarder places it down face up as usual. In the event there is a pause or some discussion while the caller thinks, this procedure eliminates the possibility of the group forgetting what was discarded and who discarded it so the game can continue with the correct next player.
    >Tom, Love your site, hope you don't mind others jumping in with comments.
    >Bee

    Hi, Bee.
    You have said it just right! It's common sense that it's bad etiquette to put a tile on someone else's rack... or, for that matter, to remove a tile from someone else's rack.
    By all means, please do jump in anytime. This board would be more interactive (to allow interactions without me acting as intermediary) if I was a better programmer.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 9, 2015


    Do you have a reference for a tutor?

    >From: "jdef426@aol
    >Sent: Friday, January 9, 2015 5:08 PM
    >Subject: Tutors for Mahjong
    >Hello Mr. Sloper,
    > We were given a Mahjong set as Christmas present. I'm finding it very difficult to learn to play from the enclosed instructions. Do you have a reference for a tutor in the San Gabriel Valley that we might contact? We live in Hacienda Heights. My e-mail address in jdef426 at aol.com. Thank you - Jackie Brearley

    Jackie,
    Here's how my website works: all the information I have that people might want is right here, available for you to find (I do not have, for example, any lists of tutors or players that are not listed here on this site).
    I have three ways for you to find a teacher here on my site:
    FAQ 4A has a list of teachers right at the top.
    FAQ 15 offers ideas for other ways to find one.
    You can also search through the posts on the Find Players/Teachers bulletin board (search for zip code or city name, and you can also click back and see even older listings).
    (I apparently lied when I said there were 3 ways) You can also post an announcement on the Find Players/Teachers board - but you don't need to, because I'm posting your question and my answer there, as well as on the Q&A board. Maybe someone in your area will see your post and contact you.
    You can link to FAQ 4A, FAQ 15, and the Find Players/Teachers board in the "site links" list above left.
    Good luck! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 9, 2015


    Is this a rule? (Putting a tile on another player's rack)

    >From: Louise D
    >Sent: Thursday, January 8, 2015 11:03 AM
    >Subject: MJ
    >Minor point: When a player calls for a discard, some players will put the tile on the caller's rack instead of just pointing to where the tile is or just pushing it closer to the caller. Is there an official rule on putting a tile on a caller's rack?
    >Louise

    No. You might be interested in reading the post entitled "She says I have to keep my hands off her rack! Is that really a rule??" from andi c on September 19, 2014 (below).
    May the tiles (and a rulebook) be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 8, 2015


    Frequently Asked Questions about American mah-jongg

    >From: Louise D
    >Sent: Thursday, January 8, 2015 6:07 AM
    >Subject: MJ
    >A player exposed 2 1 bams and 2 jokers. She then exposed 3 Souths. I call her dead because it was a closed hand. Can we still take her jokers even though it was a dead hand. (they were exposed before we called her dead). I think we can.
    >Lou

    >From: Louise D
    >Sent: Thursday, January 8, 2015 6:16 AM
    >Subject: MJ
    >A player called for a tile and put it on her rack. As she was about the complete her exposure but BEFORE she put her tiles up, (she had them in her hand) she changed her mind and said she didn't want the tile. I know if her tiles were put up on the rack first, she couldn't change her mind, but in this case, she hadn't put them up, but DID put the called tile on her rack. I said she couldn't change her mind, she already started the exposure. She didn't agree. Who is right?
    >Lou

    Hello, Lou. Your questions:

    Can we still take her jokers even though it was a dead hand. (they were exposed before we called her dead).
    Please read Frequently-Asked Question 19-P.

    I know if her tiles were put up on the rack first, she couldn't change her mind, but in this case, she hadn't put them up, but DID put the called tile on her rack. I said she couldn't change her mind, she already started the exposure. She didn't agree. Who is right?
    "Change of heart" questions are frequently asked. I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. Read FAQ 19-AM-2.* After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 8, 2015

    *UPDATE: see Lynn McD's letter from the League, reported on March 2, 2015. The rule has been definitively clarified.


    Bay leaves, part 3

    >From: RayHeaton
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 7, 2015 3:20 PM
    >Subject: Bay leaves in old set
    >Hi Tom,
    >Maybe Fran's mother knew of dried Bay leaves acting as an insect and mice repellant, fearing her treasured mahjong set was prone to infestation. Bay leaves give off a scent hated by weevils, flies, cockroaches etc.
    >Best regards
    >Ray
    >P.s. I'm yet to see a set featuring bay leaves on the flowers, one can live in hope!

    I like that explanation, Ray. I smelled some bay leaves in my spice cabinet and wasn't satisfied that their fragrance was all that great an additive for the plastic smell of new polyethylene tiles or a mildewed old set.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 7, 2015


    Is it a rule, part 2 (speaking calls aloud)

    >From: "lindaz...
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 7, 2015 11:33 AM
    >Subject: Is it a rule? Part 2
    >Regarding Emily Z's question on Jan 6-- It seems to me that some players in her group are very rude. You always emphasize harmony during the game, and I very much admire that Zen philosophy. ( It's just like life--courtesy is the hallmark of civilization). How can any player pick up a tile (for exposure or MJ) without announcing his/her intention to other players? Suppose another player wanted the tile at the same time? Would the tile not then have to be verbally designated? I have never played a tournament. Is there a humongous amount of money involved or is winning just for "bragging rights"?? Thanks for your advice--
    >Sincerely, Lind
    >a

    Hi, Linda. Don't be afraid of tournaments. You meet all kinds of players there. Yes, you sometimes meet players who've played a long time and are so sure of the rightness of their ways that they approach rudeness when challenged. But you also meet giddily nervous first-timers and just plain nice folks. The vast majority of players at tournaments are friendly and pleasant.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 7, 2015


    What do you do, part 3 (3-player walls)

    >From: Shirley S
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 7, 2015 5:53 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When playing 3 handed Mahjong do you omit certain tiles and does the open chair get a wall?

    Shirley, you wrote:

    do you omit certain tiles
    No. Use all 152 tiles (assuming that you play American-style mah-jongg, which I just realized is an assumption on my part).

    does the open chair get a wall?
    PLEASE READ FAQ 13-A. I have to assume you haven't read it yet. I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to the FAQs above left. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks! If the wording of the answer is unclear, please let me know what information is missing, so that I can improve the wording of the answer for future askers of this question.
    Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3. If my assumption is incorrect, and you don't play American mah-jongg but rather an Asian variant, then another part of FAQ 13 should tell you what you need to know.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 7, 2015


    What do you do, part 2 (3-player walls)

    >From: Shirley S
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 7:24 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >do you build 4 walls if only playuny with three?

    Read "Frequently Asked Question" 13-A. You can link to the FAQs above left. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 6, 2015


    What do you do with the leftover tiles? (3-player walls)

    >From: Shirley S
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 6:12 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When you play with 3 people and deal tiles, what do you do with the leftover tiles that you don't deal to missing fourth person?
    >Shirley S

    You don't do anything with them, Shirley. They just stay in the wall. Read "Frequently Asked Question" 13-A. I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 6, 2015


    Is it a rule? (speaking calls aloud)

    >From: Emily Z
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 5:04 PM
    >Subject: Aloud or silent
    >Is it a requirement or a rule or simply polite play to announce "call" or "Mah Jongg" while claiming a discarded tile? Today I asked a player if she would do me a favor and announce what she was doing. She ignored me. I noticed that several tournament players are silent when claiming tiles. I play in an open game, not a tournament. Have I any rights in this instance? Thank you.
    >Emily Z
    >Venice, FL

    Hi, Emily.
    Certainly it's standard practice to always verbalize a claim for a discarded tile. But is it a rule to verbalize calls? Well, let's check the official rulebook. Turn to page 14. Hmm, well, the wording is rather loose. It says that any other player "has a right to claim it." And in a couple other places in that paragraph, it refers to this action as a "call." It doesn't specifically say that a player must speak the claim, or verbalize the "call," but how else could one do it?

    You asked about not only claiming a tile for exposure but also mah-jongg. Again, the wording is rather loose. Note, however, that each time the rulebook mentions winning, it uses the phrase "declaring Mah Jongg." If one is not going to speak a declaration, then how else could one do it?

    So, although the wording in the rulebook is unspecific on this question, I think the intent is clear: one is supposed to verbally "call" for exposure, and one is supposed to verbally "declare" mah-jongg.

    In your email, you didn't say specifically, but it sounds like the event you described (a player who ignored your request that she speak aloud) occurred at a tournament. If so, then it's easily remedied. You simply raise an arm and request a judge's ruling at your table. I'm quite certain that any judge would rule in your favor on this, and say that all calls for exposure or mah-jongg must be verbalized aloud while playing at the tournament. If you are not at a tournament, then the player with the more forceful personality will have her way.

    You say you noticed a lot of tournament players playing silently. The only times I've seen that are when the call (for discard or mah-jongg) occurs during the silent player's turn. I imagine that the "rule" that silent players use is that verbalizations are only needed when the call interrupts the order of play.

    And lastly, it should go without saying that you should always keep your eyes open - never just listen. If you're vigilant, then verbalizations are less of an issue.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 6, 2015


    Bay leaves in old set, part 2

    >From: Fran
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 2:29 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:you asked what the case & tiles were made of, (possible warranting the
    >Bay leaves!). I would say ivory tiles & one of those standard faux alligator top cases which appear to be cardboard!

    Hi, Fran. You wrote:

    I would say ivory tiles
    I would say highly doubtful and unlikely! Read FAQ 7c2 (you can link to the FAQs above left).

    & one of those standard faux alligator top cases which appear to be cardboard!
    Firstly, would anyone store valuable and rare ivory items in a cheap faux alligator-cardboard box? That would be like buying a set of expensive sterling silver eating utensils, and they come in a paper bag! That's not the way expensive rare items are packaged. What's the manufacturer gonna say, "Well, you're spending good money on expensive items, but we didn't want to charge you even more for a container too?" That's not the way things work.
    Secondly, I never heard of faux alligator cardboard. Is it a vinyl alligator-textured case (and yes, there is cardboard stiffening material around the sides of such a case), is that it? Like this one, below?

    My guess is that the bay leaves are to kill a smell, from either the tiles or the case. But I can't tell which, because ivory tiles don't stink, but you surely don't have ivory tiles. Plastic tiles that come in vinyl cases (like in the photo above) usually stink when they're new, but any type of plastic that someone might mistake for ivory usually does not stink. And I suppose faux-alligator cardboard might smell, if it had been stored next to something smelly. So, I'm afraid I still can't tell you the answer to your bay leaf mystery. If you want to try again, maybe photos of your set and case might help.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 6, 2015


    Can a discarded redeemable tile be claimed? (FAQ 19-G2)

    >From: Becky H
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 1:00 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player exposed one joker and a three 5 bams. The next in turn threw a 5 bam on purpose (instead of redeeming) as she did not want to give her (the one with the exposure) a joker-less hand. The player with the exposure called the 5 bam replaced the joker in the exposure and used it in her hand to declare Maj. Did we make any mistakes here?

    Hi, Becky.
    For purposes of discussion, let's call your joker-exposer "Player A," and your five-bam-discarder "Player B."
    What Player B did was perfectly reasonable and standard. But if what Player A did was an allowable play, then what Player B did would NOT have been reasonable, or standard -- consider: if anybody at the table could simply grab and redeem a freshly discarded 5B, it would have been extremely dangerous and unwise to throw one! Please read "Frequently Asked Question" 19-G2. I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions about American mah-jongg, and you can link to them above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 6, 2015


    Bay leaves in old set

    >From: Francesca
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 6:40 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I just found my mother's old set (probably 50+years old as she is 97 now!) & the bottom was lined with dry bay leaves!!! Any idea why?
    >Fran P

    What are the tiles made of? What is the case or container made of?
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 6, 2015


    Donation

    >From: JAN H via PayPal
    >Sent: Monday, January 5, 2015 12:44 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from JAN H
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$50.00 USD from JAN H. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $50.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Confirmation number: #####
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: JAN H
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Jan! Thank you very much!
    May the tiles be with you in 2015.
    Tom
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    1/5/15


    Called me dead but I'm not. What now? (FAQ 19-AB)

    >From: Karen G
    >Sent: Saturday, January 3, 2015 8:41 AM
    >Subject: question
    >What happens when a player challenges another player saying that she is dead because she has the wrong number of tiles out and there is no hand with those tiles. I placed three soaps out. The player who challenged me was wrong. Then what happens?
    >Karen

    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-AB. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 3, 2015


    If you are dealt a kong, part 4

    >From: Dot B
    >Sent: Thursday, January 1, 2015 7:58 AM
    >Subject: Re: Fwd: Mah Jong question
    >Thanks, Tom.
    >If possible, I'd like the following posted so that Ray can read it:
    >Thanks very much, Ray, for your response. The basic question I had (and probably not concisely stated) was is there a difference in a kong formed by drawing from the wall in your turn or from one that is formed in the beginning of the hand when the tiles are dealt to you and I conclude from your answer that there is no difference. The differences lay in how a concealed kong is treated, whether you go with Thompson and Maloney or any of the other varied opinions from other sources. I agree that it is more interesting for the game to keep concealed kongs completely concealed. We try to keep our rules as simple as possible so this is what we will do in future.
    >Thanks to Tom for his comprehensive website and the bulletin board and to Ray for his input!
    >PS - after each of our games my husband asks me if I Mahed their Jongs!

    Hi, Dot.
    Correct: there is no difference if a tile (or set of tiles) is dealt to you, or if you pick it from the wall.
    But I have never seen any other "varied opinions" on "how a concealed kong is treated." I worry that something is still unclear (that we are still not communicating on some level). I don't know what other "opinions" you have seen - unless you are talking about other variants (other than the Australian/British/Western rules).*
    And you can't keep a concealed kong "completely concealed" all the way through the play of a hand - you have to meld it at some point, else use the fourth tile in some other way, or you will never be able to mah their jongg! I hope it's clear now that there's a difference between four identical tiles within the hand, and a melded "concealed kong." I realize that your initial question wasn't about that, but it's possible that this is still a point of some confusion.
    * [This note added later:] There is a difference between "what one is permitted to do under the rules" and "what one is advised to do, strategically." To say it more briefly: rules are one thing; strategy is another. There are no differing "opinions" on what the Australian/British/Western rules permit, Dot. Is it that you have seen different advice on strategies for how best to handle a concealed kong?
    Happy new year, Dot.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    New Year's Day, 2015


    If you are dealt a kong, part 3

    >From: RayHeaton
    >Sent: Thursday, January 1, 2015 6:00 AM
    >Subject: Dot's Kong question
    >Tom,
    >I can appreciate Dot's problem with understanding Kongs if her group use only the book she mentioned, the book is mostly just illustrations of winning hands and has very brief explanations of game play.
    >Kongs are mentioned on pages 63 and 64 of my copy of the book (a 2009 edition), but just as specific problems and answers. I've extracted them here to hopefully help Dot's understanding and to clarify why she has posed her question.
    >The first problem is titled "Concealed Kong" and asks, "It seems reasonable to allow a player to conceal a Kong (all tiles face down), if it reveals the suit or hand intended. If this is not the case however, is it not rather provoking to conceal a Kong of Winds, for example, one of which may be needed for several hands?"
    >The answer to this problem says "It is provoking to conceal a Kong and if this is unacceptable then implement the House Rule; this allows a Kong to be concealed only until a further exposed Pung is made (in that same hand). The concealed Kong must then be exposed - it still scores as a concealed Kong, of course. It is best to keep your game as uncomplicated as possible and therefore a concealed Kong should remain concealed; indeed why should the player having the good fortune to form a concealed Kong reveal it? Players are aware of the risks when a concealed Kong is formed and should take alternative measures if necessary. It is just one of the chances of the game".
    >The second problem is titled "Kongs" and asks "May a player go Mah Jong with more than fourteen tiles?"
    >The solution to this question is stated as "Yes; for each Kong formed, a loose tile is taken; if this player proceeds to win there will be 15 tiles in the hand. In the unlikely event of a player making four Kongs, the winning hand would contain 18 tiles."
    >I think the language is rather loose in these answers; one thing missing from these explanations (though implied in the first question) is that to declare a concealed Kong you have to lay the tiles down in front of your hand (and take a replacement tile); as it is I think the answers could imply wrongly that the Kong remains in the players hand itself and the player also takes another tile.
    >The answers could also be read as mixing up the meaning of a concealed Kong (that is, four tiles laid face down in front of the player's hand) with keeping (or concealing) the four tiles in the hand and so still in play.
    >Really, until the Kong is declared (by laying it down) then the player has only a potential Kong, as the fourth tile of the Kong group could be used in other melds instead (well, any of the tiles could be of course, the player could change their mind and go for a different winning pattern entirely). As soon as the Kong is laid down, but only then, the player has committed themselves to the Kong. And it is only then that a replacement tile is taken into the hand.
    >I find your explanations of how to declare a Kong perfectly understandable! And, as you say, to show that you are declaring a concealed Kong (in T&M's style of play), you lay the tiles down in front of you (two face up, two face down).
    >The first question and answer imply that you can also choose to have all four tiles face down if it would otherwise reveal the hand you are aiming for.
    >Unfortunately too, the first question and answer confuses what is a concealed Kong and what is an exposed Kong.
    >A concealed Kong is one formed by drawing from the wall and then declared by laying it down face down (or two tiles face-up, two face-down). You can be in this situation at the beginning when you have selected your tiles (or having been dealt them, in Dot's terms), if you already have all four tiles in your hand. If you do declare a concealed Kong by laying it down with two tiles face up, then you are revealing what those tiles are of course.
    >An exposed Kong is one formed by discard (in which case you must already have the other three tiles in your hand). In this case, the Kong is declared by laying it down face up.
    >Regards and Happy New Year!
    >Ray

    Happy New Year, Ray. You surely did find the cause of Dot's confusion. I did not look in that particular T&M book, because I knew that it's just a list of illustrated hands. Since Dot had not specified which page she was citing, I preferred to look in T&M's main book for their description of concealed kongs there. T&M created three books, and it never occurred to me that she would have only a "companion" book (The Mah Jong Player's Companion" or "Improve Your Mah Jong"), without also having a copy of "The Game of Mah Jong Illustrated." This is not the first time one of T&M's "companion" books has caused someone confusion.
    It does indeed sound like you've zeroed in on the source of Dot's confusion! T&M did indeed mix up, as you say, "the meaning of a concealed Kong (that is, four tiles laid face down in front of the player's hand) with keeping (or concealing) the four tiles in the hand and so [those four tiles are] still in play."
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    New Year's Day, 2015


    Couldn't find this in the Q&As

    >From: Judith B
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 31, 2014 12:08 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Tom - I have tried for an hour to get this answer from yr Q&A. I couldn’t find - so sorry
    >1. Person calls a tile for a kong. then after putting the kong on her rack) takes a joker from another rack (I found this OK and know it is right) However, then
    >using that joker for another kong (in her hand) and says Mah Jongg. All legal. now, she asks everybody to pay double because she
    >picked it herself. I know she is right but somebody questioned that and said only the person she picked the joker from should pay
    >double and nobody else. This person is wrong but would love to hear it from you.
    >thanks and happy new year.
    >Judy Judy

    Hi, Judy. Read FAQ 19-AN ("Who pays double?").
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 31, 2014


    If you are dealt a kong, part 2

    >From: Dot B
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 31, 2014 6:54 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: Mah Jong question
    >Hello again,
    >I wasn't sure how to post to the bulletin board and reference a previous question, so I'm answering your questions here:
    >I guess we play the classic Chinese (with some personal and agreed upon variations) and the book we most frequently use is Thompson and Maloney "The Mah Jong Players Companion." (We prefer this book because of the wealth of color illustrated hands.) Their recommendation is that a concealed kong should remain concealed in general, not referencing any difference between a kong from the deal or from drawing from the wall. From other references in your FAQs I suppose a kong which is dealt at the beginning of the hand could be treated as if the fourth tile is drawn from the wall forming a concealed kong - in other words an additional tile should be drawn from the wall and added to the concealed kong. Does this make sense?
    >Thanks very much for your help.
    >Dot Bryant

    Hi, Dot. You wrote:

    the book we most frequently use is Thompson and Maloney "The Mah Jong Players Companion." ... because of the wealth of color illustrated hands.
    Although T&M do describe the classic Chinese game in one of their other books, the hands illustrated in their Companion book are from British/Australian/Western mah-jongg. You do not play the classic Chinese game.

    Their recommendation is that a concealed kong should remain concealed in general
    I think they're suggesting that you let the four tiles remain concealed within the hand, while you let the rest of the hand take shape. Can you tell me what page this recommendation is on?

    not referencing any difference between a kong from the deal or from drawing from the wall.
    They're right in not making a distinction between those two. You made a distinction in your initial question. I'm still not sure if that distinction is a key part of the question you're asking.

    From other references in your FAQs I suppose a kong which is dealt at the beginning of the hand could be treated as if the fourth tile is drawn from the wall forming a concealed kong
    I'm not sure what you're saying. You have four identical tiles within the hand at this point. T&M, you say, recommend keeping them within the hand, and not declaring a concealed kong. That is exactly what I said to you yesterday. I suggested yesterday that you read the 29 Sep 2010 Q&A in FAQ 20 about the concealed kong - that Q&A was about the practice of declaring a concealed kong (which removes the four tiles from the hand and puts them in one's melds area on the table). Perhaps this is the source of your confusion? That you don't understand the implications of declaring a concealed kong?

    an additional tile should be drawn from the wall
    This can be done only if you meld the kong. T&M describe the concealed kong in their other book, "The Game of Mah Jong Illustrated." Do you have that book also? The way T&M handle a concealed kong is to meld it, with the two middle tiles face down:

    This way, the other players can see what you have melded, but it's marked as concealed (and will be scored as concealed, if the player wins).

    in other words an additional tile should be drawn from the wall and added to the concealed kong.
    No! Your kong already has 4 identical tiles, and whatever other tile you take from the back end of the wall will never match those. The replacement tile is put within the concealed hand.

    The reason for the replacement tile is that once you have melded a concealed kong, that kong is regarded as a glorified pung (3 tiles), and now your hand is short 1 tile. And the reason why T&M and I recommend not melding the kong right away is to maintain flexibility - not all hands you might form with the set can work as well if the set is a kong rather than a pung. AND maybe you'll have a use for the fourth tile, so that that tile needs to remain excluded from the set. Once you're sure that the kong works with the rest of your hand, and you need the replacement tile for discards fodder, then go ahead and meld the kong. Have I addressed your question, Dot? Or have I just said a lot of stuff you knew already?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 31, 2014


    If you are dealt a kong can you take an extra tile?

    >From: Dot B
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 30, 2014 5:20 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jong question
    >Dear Tom,
    >While playing today with friends a question came up: if you are dealt a kong can you take an extra tile?
    >Thank you,
    >Dot B

    Hi, Dot.
    Sorry to answer your question with two questions, but I need more information in order to give you the absolute best answer.
    1. What kind of mah-jongg do you play? Apparently you play an Asian variant (one in which a kong necessitates an extra tile, since a kong counts as a glorified pung). But which one? What book do you use as your mah-jongg bible? Tell me the author's name too, not only the book's title. If you don't know which Asian variant you play, you can look it up in FAQ 2B.
    2. What do you mean by "dealt"? Do you mean that before the dealer discards the first tile, you have four identical tiles in the hand?
    Once you clarify your question, I can give you your answer. Also, maybe you should check FAQ 20, and read about the "concealed kong" (in an emailed Q&A dated 29 Sep 2010, down near the bottom of the FAQ). You can link to the FAQs above left. If it's a numbered suit tile that you have four of, maybe you shouldn't declare a kong (so you can use the fourth one in a chow).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 30, 2014


    Column 626

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Monday, December 29, 2014 9:12 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Column 626 #7, Wouldn't the hot tiles be fours and fives in the other suits, not threes and fours?
    >Bee

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Monday, December 29, 2014 9:17 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Column 626 #10 couldn't it also be odds #2 with 7D and 7C as hot tiles?
    >Bee

    Hi Bee,
    Sure enough, I typed the wrong numbers in #7, and I missed Odds #2. Hat's off 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 weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 29, 2014


    The switcheroo, part 2

    >From: Belinda <furbabymom
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 24, 2014 5:38 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Tom, here is another viewpoint on "The Switcheroo":
    >The rules do not indicate that you must place the tiles in a certain configuration in order for the mah jongg to be valid. Since the tiles did not change, only their order, I would think that the player has a valid mah jongg even after moving the tiles into a different order. As she did not expose any tiles before calling mah jongg, the fact that the new hand is a concealed hand would not matter.
    >In many tournaments the rules state that the tiles can be placed in any order but if another player asks you to place them as they would be shown on the card, you must comply. But that was not a part of this scenario so I would think that even in a tournament, the mah jongg would be valid. The fact that the other players threw in their hands before she moved the tiles shouldn't make a difference either.
    >Bee

    Hi, Bee. You wrote:

    The rules do not indicate that you must place the tiles in a certain configuration in order for the mah jongg to be valid.
    Let's check the rulebook. Page 15: "All players should verify the declarer's hand." And, farther down the page, "No player should throw in or expose own hand until the winner's hand is verified." Verifying the hand is not specifically spelled out; certainly it is common courtesy to arrange the tiles in card order, even if the rulebook doesn't say to do so. In order for players to verify the hand, it has to be identified, and its parts compared to the corresponding hand on the card.

    The way Beth tells it, the winner identified the hand as 369 #5. All Beth's players then "verified" her 369 #5 hand. Then the experienced player said it was incorrect. Then the winner changed her hand to 369 #3.

    I said before that I would have given the winner my 60¢. But given that the League has ruled in several other places that a move by the player may not be taken back, I think it's reasonable to apply that thinking to this as well. The one rule that supports your viewpoint is the rule that an exposure may be changed prior to discarding. In order to promote harmonious play, as long as it wasn't a tournament, I'd let her change the hand.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 24, 2014


    The switcheroo

    >From: Beth Pegram
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 24, 2014 1:17 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg in error
    >Thank you Sloper, Your web site and book have been very helpful to me, a fairly new player of American Mah Jongg. Recently one at the table picked a tile and declared MJ. She had not previously exposed anything. She put out 3b3bJ 6b6b 9b9bJ 9c9cJ 9d9d9d saying it was 369 #5. As we other three were throwing in our tiles, the more experience player in our group said "oh wait it is in error". We all agreed that it was error and a two suit hand, not three. She is dead. Rule #97 d: RDWW the game ceases since all have destroyed their hand and wall. However, she looked at her hand and moved two jokers to the 9c and 9d position and had #3 on the card,369: 3b3b 6b6b 9b9b 9c9cJJ 9d9d9dJ If we had not destroyed our hand, could she make that change and win? We play for fun (no money) but do like to know and play by the rules.
    >Thanks much. Beth

    Hi, Beth. You wrote:

    However, she looked at her hand and moved two jokers to the 9c and 9d position and had #3 on the card,369: 3b3b 6b6b 9b9b 9c9cJJ 9d9d9dJ If we had not destroyed our hand, could she make that change and win?
    Let me get this straight (it's easier if I look at the tiles). She had:

    Right, that's supposed to be 2 suits, not 3. Then after someone said "that's wrong," she changed it to:

    And yes, that's a valid hand. This is not about whether or not everybody had destroyed their hands. This is about whether she can change her hand after being called out on the first arrangement of her tiles. I have never heard of this happening in American mah-jongg before, and I am certain the League has never issued a written ruling on this. I can tell you that if she did this in Chinese mah-jongg, at a tournament, she'd probably be stuck with the initial arrangement. But if it wasn't at a tournament, then whether or not the other Chinese players would pay her would depend on her status with the group, and/or the force of her personality. At an American tournament, a judge might well make her stay with her original arrangement (dead hand, and the game is over since everybody destroyed their hands). Or a judge might let her have the win. Since the League has not issued a written rule on this, it's up to the judge - else (in the absence of a judge) to majority rule. The League rules do include a precedence for a "once you've exposed it, you've committed to it" principle, but I have never seen it applied to this precise situation. I think a judge would be within her rights to apply that principle here (and disallow the switcheroo win). But I have to say, I'm impressed with her quick-wittedness. I'd hand her my sixty cents!

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


    Column 625

    >From: Deborah A
    >Sent: Monday, December 22, 2014 9:42 AM
    >Subject: Question 1, Column #625
    >Hi Tom:
    >I am wondering why you wouldn't consider W-D #3 as you have 6 tiles towards making this hand (FFF, E, W, G) and keep the winds. You could still pass the craks. I look forward to your explanation.
    >Thanks
    >Deborah A

    I missed that one, Deborah. Good catch.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 22, 2014


    How old, how much, part 2

    >From: Stray at_heart
    >Sent: Monday, December 22, 2014 7:49 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mahjong tiles
    >Thanks very much for the info Tom! I did read the FAQ about the materials used but I have no idea what any of the bone or ivory feel like so only guessed at plastic. I also read down the q&a page but only thru the December posts. That November 16 one is the same set as the one I have apart from having the western numbers! And hers is complete with some bits this set is missing. Thanks again for the info and for answering so fast. I only wish I had enough spare coin to donate for your services. Much appreciated mate.
    >Greg.


    How old, how much, it says 1924?

    >From: Stray at_heart
    >Sent: Monday, December 22, 2014 12:24 AM
    >Subject: FW: Mahjong tiles
    >Hi Tomster.
    >This is a Mahjong set my parents have had since around the time i was born in 1971. I can't get specific answers about it from my mum as she has dementia now. Anyway, they never actually knew how to play the game so I have no idea why she held onto it so long! From spending the last couple hours reading your site I gleaned that they might be a Honk Kong set which is the cheapest you say. The set is similar to the one pictured on your FAQ 7a page. They were made by the Kwong Fat Cheung Ivory & Mahjong company, which is the logo inside the case. But I cannot find any other info online. I am unsure of the materials used, but assume they are plastic? The dimensions of each tile are 28mmH x 22mmW 12mmD. The tiles are in great condition with only minor scuffing from storage (as the game has never been played), the case is good but the zipper is broken. As pictured, there are 144 tiles, 4 blanks (still wrapped with 1924 written on the plastic?), three small dice and one other that I have no idea if it belongs to the set, and the wind indicator. I have included 10 pics as requested, and would really appreciate it if you could identify if they are worth anything, and if you know the manufacturing dates maybe?
    >Many thanks in advance,
    >Greg.

    Hi Stray,
    You wrote:

    I am unsure of the materials used, but assume they are plastic?
    Read FAQ 7C and FAQ 7C-3.

    4 blanks (still wrapped with 1924 written on the plastic?)
    Your question is unclear. You can see what's written on the wrap; you don't need me to check your eyesight.

    three small dice and one other that I have no idea if it belongs to the set
    It doesn't. It's a die from a set of poker dice.

    if they are worth anything
    Sure. It's worth something. You should scroll down and read the November 16 post "Is it authentic?" from Lynn S, below.

    and if you know the manufacturing dates maybe?
    I don't. Certainly not 1924.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 22, 2014


    When it's dragged, is it "down"?

    >From: Kane Linda
    >Sent: Friday, December 19, 2014 5:21 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Related to "When is a tile down?"
    >I noticed one of the players at our table had the bad habit of picking a tile from the wall and dragging it across the table while looking at it.
    >If she didn't want it, she would flip it up and snappily discard it.
    >If she wanted it, she would lift it and put it in her rack.
    >This process works without any ambiguity when it is a tile on the bottom half of the wall.
    >But, if it is on the top half of the wall, technically, she picks it up from the wall, then actually has to touch the table with the tile to slide it to her, so question ... is it now "down"?
    >(By the way, she is a good player, and says she would never do that in a tournament ...but ...)
    >I run a rather large Mah Jongg group that weekly has somewhere between 10 to 17 tables. And annually run classes and a tournament.
    >I try to write a helpful Question and Answer in my weekly status email that I send out, and credit your column and the NMJL bulletin.
    >It has helped with the harmony in the group and we have a wonderful level of play.
    >I have your book, and suggest it and your website to everyone in my group and all new players - they are both fabulous.
    >Thank you for all you do.

      Q: When is a tile down?
      A: A discarded tile is "down" when it touches the table OR is completely named, whichever occurs first. If you pick a tile from the wall, then touch it to the tabletop, it's "down." You must say its name and take your hand off it. Likewise, if you say the name of the tile in full, it's "down." You must put it down and take your hand off it.
      For further reading:
      RDWW - p. 51 (rule 53), p. 88
      NMJL - p. 18

    Hi, Kane Linda.
    My description of the rule is based on (1) a very strict interpretation of the loose description on page 18 of the official rulebook (rule 7), and (2) extrapolating strictly on Asian practices (nobody in Asia EVER lazily drags a picked tile along the table, or picks a tile and then rests it on the table while thinking about whether to keep it or not). In my opinion, a strict interpretation of rule 7 on page 18 of the official rulebook is that yes, a tile is down if not lifted cleanly from wall to rack. But I'm not a tournament judge. When I teach, I tell my students not to do that. When I play with someone who does that, I hold my peace. If you run a rather large Mah Jongg group that weekly has somewhere between 10 to 17 tables. And annually run classes and a tournament, then you should have a worn and dogeared copy of the official NMJL rulebook. And a collection of annual NMJL newsletters. If you have neither, it's not too late to get them.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 19, 2014


    I need jokers

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

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


    Penalty for erroneous mah-jongg

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

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


    Set Appraisal, part 4

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

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


    Set Appraisal, part 3

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

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

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


    Set Appraisal, part 2

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


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


    Set Appraisal

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

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

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


    My mystery flowers, part 2

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

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


    What if the bet-on loses a death challenge?

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

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


    Donation

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

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


    Donation

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

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


    Which type of case, part 4

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

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


    My mystery flower tiles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Frequently-Asked Question 19E

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

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


    Which type of case, part 3

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

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


    Which type of case, part 2

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


    Which type of case should I get?

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

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


    Can a player call another player dead?

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

    Hi Donna, you wrote:

    do you declare the player dead
    Yes.

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


    What's the origin of "goulash"?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    To which I replied:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


    I would appreciate your opinion, part 2

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

    Hi, Jill. You asked:

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

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

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

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 6, 2014


    Who was wrong, part 4

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

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

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 6, 2014


    I would appreciate your opinion on this set.

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

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


    I cannot find this rule anywhere

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

    Ricki, did you try looking on the card? Turn it over and look at the back. Left pane, last sentence of the last paragraph before the numbered rules. Look for the word "NEVER" (in all capital letters, bold text, and underlined just like that).
    And for a more detailed answer: This a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-E. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks! And every player is obligated to read and understand everything on the card.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 5, 2014


    Who was wrong, part 3

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

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

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

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

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

    So, either way, player 2 is wrong!

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


    Who was wrong, part 2

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


    Who was wrong in this weird situation?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


    Where to get scoring sticks in HK, part 2

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

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

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


    Where can matching dragons be used on the 2014 card?

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

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

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


    Can I call for and pick up that joker?

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

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

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


    Is this a punishable offense?

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

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

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


    Where to get scoring sticks in Hong Kong?

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

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

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


    Age range/value of the pictured set

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

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

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


    Which tile is used most often?

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

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

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


    Ideas, part 2

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

    Hi, Jill. You wrote:

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

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

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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


    Ideas as to the history?

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

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

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

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


    What are these stick things, part 3

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

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

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


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

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

    Hi, Ralph. You wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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


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

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

    Hi, Ralph. You wrote:

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

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

    Do we collect points based on our Mahjong?
    Yes.

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

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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


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

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

    Hi, Elaine. You wrote:

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

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

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

    Hi, Maddie.
    Read the back of your card. Look for the word "NEVER" (in all capital letters, bold text, and underlined just like that).
    Or you could read "Frequently Asked Question" 19-E-2. You can link to FAQ 19 above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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


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

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

    Hi, Marie. There's a list of FAQs above left. FAQ 19 is a list of the FAQs about American-style mah-jongg. You want FAQ 19-P.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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


    Is it possible, part 2

    >From: "mscaston@
    >Sent: Friday, November 21, 2014 4:36 PM
    >Subject: Re: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank you for your recent email. My inbox is protected by ChoiceMail One, the leader in anti-spam technology. ChoiceMail is holding the message you sent because your email address is not on my list of approved senders.
    >Please click on the link below. This will take you to a sender verification page. Sender verification is a one-time process which takes only a few seconds. This will let me add you to my list of approved senders and receive your original email.
    >ChoiceMail sender verification: Verify your identity here
    >Please be aware that if you do not complete sender verification within 3 days, ChoiceMail will automatically delete your original message.
    >To find out how ChoiceMail can make you spam free, please visit http://www...

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

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


    Is it possible that my opposite player is to blame?

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

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

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


    Bubbe Fischer, part 3

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

    Hi Catherine,
    Very cool!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

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


    Looking for a Kakinuma owner's manual

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

    Konbanwa, Miye-san. You wrote:

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

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

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

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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


    Offline American mah-jongg? (FAQ 5)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


    Is it authentic?

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

    Hi Lynn, you asked:

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

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

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

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 16, 2014


    Why is this self-pick, part 5

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


    Why is this self-pick, part 4

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

    Very good, Belinda. As you can see below, that's the way Gladys meant the Q&A to be interpreted.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 15, 2014


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

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

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

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 15, 2014


    Why is this self-pick, part 3

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

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

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

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 15, 2014


    Why is this self-pick, part 2

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

    Hi, PhamKimThuy,
    Okay, I see it now. I got that mailing too. I'm emailing Gladys to let her know there was an error in her newsletter.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 15, 2014


    Why is this self-pick?

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

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

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

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

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 14, 2014


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

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


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

    Hello, dorie. You asked:

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

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

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

    Congratulations, by the way - this is the first time anybody ever asked me this! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 14, 2014


    Can she change her mind like that?

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 12, 2014

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


    How many jokers do I need?

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

    Hi, Peter. You wrote:

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

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

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

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    November 9, 2014


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

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

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


    Can she change her mind?

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

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

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 9, 2014


    Charity shop set

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

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

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

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

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 8, 2014


    I was astounded!

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

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

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 5, 2014


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

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

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


    Tournament organizer questions from Singapore

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

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

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

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

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 2, 2014


    Several times a year, older postings are archived so as to keep this bulletin board lean and quicker to load. The archive goes back several years, and it's real easy to access older questions and answers!

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


      Color key


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


  • See who's visiting this page. View Page Stats
    See who's visiting this page.

    © 2015 Tom Sloper. No part of this website may be re-published without written permission of the author.